Newly signed Bruins defenseman Derek Morris is excited for the puck to drop on the upcoming season. And that is something he hasn't been able to say for a long time.
With the exception of the final 18 games of last season that he played with the Rangers after being dealt there at the trade deadline, Morris has been mired in the hockey purgatory of Phoenix for the past five seasons.
The Flames' 13th pick overall in the 1996 draft arrived in Phoenix after six seasons in Calgary and two more solid years in Colorado. He was expected to be the backbone of an up-and-coming Coyotes blue line, but whether it was underachieving, injuries or a combination of both, it never happened. But Morris claims that disappointment is all behind him and he is ready to help the upstart Bruins take the next step.
"I got a new look on life," Morris told the media at the Bruins annual golf tournament in Bolton, Mass., last weekend. "I got a new opportunity, and what an opportunity [it is] to go to a great team like this. I'm coming to an opportunity where I have to go out there and play well. I want to play well, I want to win."
After watching the Phoenix franchise crumble into bankruptcy and after being on so many losing teams, Morris isn't worried about padding his stats or surpassing his career high of 48 points tallied with the Avalanche in 2002-03. Instead he just wants to help his team in any way he can. He wants to experience winning on a regular basis again, something he knows this Bruins team is capable of.
"I'm not worried about the points and all that anymore. I just want to win a championship," the 31-year-old veteran said. "I'm old enough now that you don't get many opportunities. And this is a great one, so I'm not going to let it pass by."
Morris and Bruins center Marc Savard played together in Calgary and have kept in touch over the years. While Morris isn't focused on stats, Savard expects him to rack up more points now that he is on a better team.
"You look at it — and I mean no offense to his former teammates — but he really hasn't played on too many good teams," Savard pointed out. "Now you put him in this lineup and I think he can succeed and do big things here. I'm excited to play with him again and for him to have the chance to play here."
Savard has also helped Morris settle into his new city and has eased the defenseman's transition.
"Yeah, he's been great," Morris said of the Bruins' leading scorer last season. "I talk to Marc all the time. Well, not talk … we all text now, that's what we do. I was texting him and I keep in touch."
While Savard did help talk Morris into signing with the Bruins, the Edmonton, Alberta, native didn't need too much convincing. Morris knows what a great sports city Boston is and he knows the Bruins are a team on the rise.
"You know you don't really need too much pumping up to go to Boston," Morris said. "Obviously, it's a great hockey market. I know that the people are very demanding and they want to win. As a hockey player, you want the opportunity to win some. What a great place to play and what a great opportunity for myself."