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Brendan's climb to the top

Brendan Morrison was born on August 15, 1975 in Pitt Meadows, British Columbia. He grew up watching the Edmonton Oilers and has said that Wayne Gretzky was his favorite player. When he watched the Oilers win their 4 cups in a row, he knew that he wanted to play in the NHL when he grew up. "Playing in the NHL is a dream that I have had," he said.

The first semi-pro league he played for was the Penticton Panthers. This was an AAA organization. After having a successful career, he decided to take his journey a little further.

From then he went on to play for Michigan University Wolverines, which would probably be the turning point in his career as a hockey player. In just his junior season on the team in the 95-96 season, the Wolverines won the championship. It was all because of Brendan. On March 30, 1996, he scored the game-winning goal at 3:35 of OT with a pass from Greg Crozier and Billy Muckalt. Needless to say, he was a top prospect on the Wolverines, and was named the championship's most outstanding player and was also named to the All-Tournament team. He was nominated for the Hobey Baker Award, which sadly, he did not win.

But there was always next season. Coming back strong again, Morrison strived to be the best as he entered the Wolverines as one of the nine seniors Michigan would sport that year. He was definitely one of the favorites on the team, along with teammates Mike Legg, Marty Turco, and Bill Muckalt. The team had a strong season, but only to lose to Boston University in the semi-finals on March 27, 1997. His spirits were lifted, though, the following day. At 4:30 PM on Friday, March 28th, 1997, Brendan Morrison was awarded the Hobey Baker award. It came as a sudden shock to Brendan, who was the first Michigan player ever to win the award. Following winning the award, he made a very moving speech about his career at Michigan and how he would have liked to win another championship with the Wolverines. Sadly, as much as he would like to, he wouldn't be able to return because he was graduating. His acceptance speech was sad, also, bringing tears to not only his teammates' eyes, but his own. But those 4 years of experience in his college years were the start of something BIG.

Indeed, something big did happen. Drafted in the '93 entry draft, he was the New Jersey Devils' 3rd choice, and was 39th overall. He remained hopeful of being called up to play with New Jersey, but his wish wasn't granted instantaneously. Instead, he was called to play for the Devils' farm team, the Albany River Rats.

His rookie season with the Rats was nothing less than superb. He finished 2nd in rookie scoring and 8th overall in points with 84. His wish came true when he was called up by the Devils to play in a few playoff games for them in the '97-'98 season. He did nothing but impress coach Robbie Ftorek when he scored his first NHL goal in the playoffs against the New York Rangers.

His official rookie season was '98-'99, where again, he did nothing but impress Ftorek. He finished 2nd among NHL rookies with 46 points and 33 assists. Also, Brendan was tied for 6th in the league with 13 goals.

The season to follow was not to be so enjoyable. After not receiving the deal he wanted from the Devils, Brendan held out for the first 8 games of the season. Finally, on October 25th, 1999, he signed with the Devils. But this was NOT where his troubles ended. Making $500,000 a year (which is small nowadays), Brendan saw himself being scratched out of the lineup night after night. He was beginning to fell depressed and started to become the highlight of the Devils' trading rumors. It was obvious he hated it in New Jersey, and he just wanted to be somewhere where they really needed him, and he would get more ice time. These rumors held out for a good month until probably the best thing that could possibly happen happened. Center Sergei Nemchinov, who played with Scott Gomez and Claude Lemiuex, became injured and the team needed Brendan to fill the space.

Probably the best moment in the season thus far for Mo was on January 3rd, 2000. The Devils were up 3-2 against the Sens, with only seconds to go. But the nightmare of a lifetime happened. The Sens scored with a mere .8 seconds to go! The game would be forced into overtime. Well, who scored the game-winning goal but Brendan Morrison. Deep in the Sens zone he pickpocketed the puck away from the Senators' defenseman Wade Redden, passed it to Claude Lemiuex, who passed it back to Morrison, who put it home. He slid to the ice after being tripped and was then huddled into the boards by his teammates. This gave Brendan the rare-felt feeling of belonging, and from then on, he has gotten more ice time. He has continued to set up scoring chances and has played up to his potential.

Though, it wasn't long after that Brendan vocalized his wants to go to another team. With the trading deadline just a couple of weeks away, the Devils' manager, Lou Lamiorello, was left with very few options. As the deadline grew closer, it was almost certain that Brendan was going to stay put in New Jersey, until Lamiorello dealt him to the Vancouver Canucks with teammate Denis Pederson for Alex Mogilny on the night before the deadline.

What looked like a horrible move actually turned out well for both teams. Being a big star in Vancouver, Brendan is now living up to the playing level he should have been at in New Jersey (if they would have played him), and he says that his full potential is yet to be shown. We'll have to take his word for it. =)