A “newer” face with the Coyotes Derek Morris brings with him an uncanny feeling of deja vu after being acquired at the trade deadline for the 2009-10 season from the Boston Bruins in return for a fourth round pick in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft. Morris then signed a four-year deal worth $11 million with Phoenix.
Today’s Pack Attack will take a look at the career path that has lead the 31 year old defenseman back to the desert.
After a successful rookie season in the Western Hockey League playing with the Regina Pats where he had 52 points in 67 games played in the regular season and an additional 8 points in the 11 playoff games in the 1995-96 season. Morris was then drafted that summer by the Calgary Flames 13th overall in the 1996 NHL Entry Draft.
Before turning pro the Flames sent Morris back to the WHL for one more season with the Regina Pats but still managed to make his professional hockey debut with 7 regular season games on the blueline for the Saint John Flames in the American Hockey League. I the short time with the AHL Flames he saw the penalty box for 7 minutes and still made it on the box score with 3 assist. Morris managed to pull off another 3 points and 7 penalty minutes that post season with the Saint John Flames in only five playoff appearances.
After his 1996-97 season showing in both the WHL and the AHL Morris broke onto the roster for the Calgary Flames. Playing in 82 games in 1997-98, his rookie NHL season he let it known he was an offensive force patrolling the blueline notching 29 points to go with 88 penalty minutes for this debut. He ended the season being named to the NHL All-Rookie Team.
The 2001-02 season saw Morris involved in a tragic accident that lead to the first fan fatality in NHL history, thus the bringing the implementation of the protective netting around the ends of the rinks. On March 16, 2002 in a game against the Columbus Blue Jackets at Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio a slapshot from Espen Knutsen deflected off of Morris and shot into the stands hitting 13 year old Brittanie Cecil in the head who died due to injuries two days later.
Morris continued to play with the Calgary Flames (other than a 3 game stint with the Saint John Flames in the 2000-01 season) until the 2002-03 season when he suited up for the Colorado Avalanche after being traded.
Making a huge impact in first season with the Avalanche Morris scored 11 goals and 37 assist in 75 regular season games along with 3 assist in 7 playoff games, marking the first time he had been on a team that qualified for an NHL post season.
The following season the Avalanche traded the soon-to-be free agent at the trade deadline to the Phoenix Coyotes. Between the two teams Morris played in 83 games for the 2003-04 season. Continuing to play in Phoenix after the NHL lockout of the 2004-05 season until he was traded to the New York Rangers in the 2008-09 season. Morris finished the season with the Rangers and made it to the playoffs for the first time since the 2002-03 season; however, that off season he signed with the Boston Bruins.
The 2009-10 NHL season saw a lot of major injuries across the league. Some of the hardest hit teams were the Montreal Canadiens, the Detroit Red Wings, and Derek Morris’ Boston Bruins. After 58 games with the Bruins he found himself being traded back to the Phoenix Coyotes, going on to finish out the season with the Coyotes and appearing in all 7 first round games against the Detroit Red Wings.
Morris has scored 20 points or higher in all 12 NHL seasons he has been part off; and has scored over 30 points in five of those occasions and by all rights should continue to do so for these next four seasons with the Coyotes.