Brendan Morrison never imagined he'd be back with the Vancouver Canucks, let alone on a professional tryout with no guarantees.
The 35-year-old member of the West Coast Express, who was around earlier this decade when the Canucks last fancied Stanley Cup dreams, struck out in free agency this summer and his NHL career is teetering.
"There's a greater sense of urgency, knowing that you don't have a contract in place and are trying to earn a contract," Morrison said of hitting the ice Saturday at Penticton's South Okanagan Events Centre. "[The]pressure would be my daughter and my children telling me that they can't wait to pull out their old Canuck uniforms."
The Pitt Meadows, B.C., native came home over other opportunities, but faces steep odds of making the Canucks because salary-cap space and roster spots are mostly spoken for. Morrison acknowledged that he was auditioning for 29 NHL teams, and said he would not report to Vancouver's farm club team.
The Canucks are carrying 48 professional contracts, and are limited to 50 by NHL rules - Morrison's tryout agreement doesn't count against the limit - plus their opening-night roster is expected to be tight to the $59.4-million U.S. spending threshold.
If Morrison fits, it's as a low-cost, bottom-six forward. Management knows that he blends in the dressing room after just two years away, and he can play wing, centre and up the offensive trios should injuries strike.
"I didn't anticipate being in this situation," he said. "[But]it's nice to come into a situation you're familiar with."
Morrison said he had a contract number in mind, but when no teams came calling, he chose to come to Canucks camp. He had been informally skating with Canucks players, and convinced management he was worthy of a tryout. The 12-year veteran once centred Markus Naslund and Todd Bertuzzi, and as recently as last season, he played with Alexander Ovechkin in Washington.
His Canucks career ended after the 2007-08 campaign, when a wrist injury limited him to 25 points. He followed that with a forgettable season split between Anaheim and Dallas, collecting just 31 points in 81 games.