Derek Morris got an early reprieve from the disaster that is the Phoenix Coyotes’ situation when he was dealt last winter to the New York Rangers. But even joining a contending team like the Blueshirts didn’t quite shake him from his slumber that saw his point total drop from nearly 50 in 2002-03 to the mid-20s every season since.
Now Morris, who started skating in informal captains’ practices with his new teammates this week in Wilmington, Mass., is hoping that joining an Original Six franchise that’s re-established itself as an NHL contender can be the perfect elixir to get his game back into gear.
At the Bruins’ golf tournament yesterday, he talked about how eager he is to return to his former form while wearing a spoked ‘B.’ It won’t hurt either that there’s the potential for playing next Norris Trophy winner Zdeno Chara. The Bruins wanted Morris ever since last winter’s trade deadline and finally landed him as a free agent. He’s hoping he can reward their pursuit.
“I was honored, obviously. (Last) year didn’t go quite the way I wanted it to go. There was a million things that went backwards,” said Morris. “But I got a new look on life, I got a new attitude and an opportunity to go to a great team like this.”
Offseason tidbit: Morris worked out in Arizona all winter and then landed in Boston last week so he could get his bearings in his new town and get his three boys registered for school.
Position battle: Everyone wants to play next to Chara, so Morris could get some stiff competition from Dennis Wideman, Mark Stuart and Andrew Ference. Morris should help the Bruins put together two balanced power-play units by adding some punch to the first group, with Wideman and Patrice Bergeron competing with him for a spot at the point.
Projection: Since head coach Claude Julien came in, every defensemen has had a learning curve when it came to the bench boss’s system (Aaron Ward and Andrew Alberts most famously took time to adjust). So Morris will probably start the season slow. How he responds if his ice time is shortened or the fans turn on him will determine whether he can give the Bruins the solid-two play and the 30-35 points they’re counting on him for.