The Province

Morrison reaches games milestone

IRONMAN: Pitt Meadows product surpasses Linden’s club mark

- Ed Willes

With his clean, unmarked visage and distance-runner’s physique, Brendan Morrison doesn’t exactly fit the stereotype of an NHL ironman.

An ironman at Deloitte and Touche, maybe. The NHL, not so much.

Morrison even plays along with the joke. When asked to explain his streak of playing 491 straight games he said: “I never go into corners. It’s easy to stay healthy that way.”

But even though he doesn’t look the part, there’s something about that number which presents an incontesta­ble argument about Morrison’s durability. Since he was acquired from the New Jersey Devils in March 2000, the kid from Pitt Meadows, who’s now the 31-yearold father-of-three from Pitt Meadows, has played every Canucks game.

That’s 12 games in ’99-’2000, five full seasons and 61 more games this season, which adds up to 483 games and eclipses the franchise record set by Trevor Linden.

Throw in the eight games he played in New Jersey before his arrival in Vancouver and Morrison’s streak sits at 491 games which, as you must know, is just 373 games behind Doug Jarvis’s NHL record.

“There’ s a little bit of luck that goes with it,” said Linden. “There’s genetics that go with it. Some guys get the groin strains or backs or whatever. But he’s played through a lot and he’s been able to grind it out.”

“It’s one of those things when you’re in the moment … you don’t think about,” said Morrison, who broke Linden’s mark Thursday night in Los Angeles — and marked the occasion by scoring Vancouver’s first goal in a 3-2 victory. “You just go and play.” And play and play and play. While calling in sick or taking stress leave isn’t exactly an option in his line of work, Morrison’s streak is noteworthy, even considerin­g the game’s unflinchin­g standard. Late in the ’02-’03 season, for example, an errant Brendan Shanahan high stick knocked out his dental plate, the pegs that held in his dental plate and another tooth.

It took 20-some stitches to close the wound but Morrison missed barely half a period against the Red Wings and, when he came back, assisted on the game-tying goal in the third period and the overtime winner. The play also went unpenalize­d by referee Don VanMassenh­oven, who was filled with regret when he saw Morrison’s dental work on the ice.

“Sorry I missed that. Here’s his teeth back,” the arbiter said to Canucks trainer Mike Burnstein.

When pressed, Morrison allows he’s played through the odd strained this and bruised that over the past six seasons. But by far the most serious injury was the torn labrum he played through last year, which he now says should have put the streak to rest.

Morrison first noticed the problem with his hip in December and kept on playing because he didn’t know what he was dealing with.

He had a better idea when he had to undergo surgery this offseason.

“If I would have known in December what I know now, there’s probably a good chance I would have had the operation,” Morrison says. “I had a chance to get back a lot quicker and not have any longterm effects.”

Morrison, in fact, still faced a 12week period of rehab had he opted for surgery last December, but he would have limited the damage to his hip.

As it was, he didn’t get off crutches until June and missed a good two months of conditioni­ng and strengthen­ing, an important factor in his terrible start this season.

Morrison now says the hip is back to about 85 per cent and that’s as good as it will get. Still, 85 per cent of whatever he’s giving the Canucks is infinitely superior to whatever he had in October when he limped through the first eight games with one goal and one assist.

“I need another summer to work on [the hip],” said Morrison, who had 19 points in his last 23 games, a run that has coincided with the Canucks’ rise.

“It’s as good as it’s going to get now, but it will improve.” And the streak will roll on.

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 ??  ?? Brendan Morrison hustles against Kings centre Derek Armstrong in Thursday night’s 3-2 victory at Los Angeles. MARK AVERY — AP
Brendan Morrison hustles against Kings centre Derek Armstrong in Thursday night’s 3-2 victory at Los Angeles. MARK AVERY — AP

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