© Herald photo by Perry Bergson
Josh Morrissey, shown here in a July file photo, has returned to Prince Albert from the Winnipeg Jets and is ready to rejoin the Raiders.
So much has happened in Josh Morrissey’s life in the last 18 months that returning to the Prince Albert Raiders might just be the best thing that could happen to him right now.
Morrissey was sent to the Raiders on Tuesday by the Winnipeg Jets after the 18-year-old defenseman had an extended audition at his first NHL training camp.
For Morrissey, who has crossed the Atlantic Ocean three times to represent his country, participated in the annual NHL combine, attended the Entry Draft in June where he was selected 13th overall by the Jets and was part of the national junior team’s training camp in Quebec and Lake Placid, NY, in August - all of this since his 17th birthday – getting settled in one place is going to be a nice break.
Granted, he wouldn’t have minded staying in Winnipeg, but coming back to the Raiders for a third season doesn’t appear to bother him.
“I’m excited to be back,” said a smiling Morrissey on Wednesday. “With the two games they played (6-1 and 6-5 wins over the Saskatoon Blades last weekend) I’m excited with what we have going.”
Morrissey’s return makes the Raiders that much stronger as his offensive abilities from the back end open up another dimension for the team.
“We obviously wish he could have spent more time in Winnipeg, but we understand they have to get going with their roster and Josh has to get going too,” says Raiders’ associate coach Dave Manson.
Morrissey had 15 goals and 32 assists in 70 games with the Raiders last year and when his season ended with a four-game sweep to the Red Deer Rebels in the opening round of the Western Hockey League playoffs, he headed back overseas for the world under-18 championships in Sochi, Russia. In seven games with that club he collected seven points in helping Canada win the gold medal.
A quick stop in Saskatoon to collect his Canadian Hockey League scholastic-player-of-the-year award preceded his trip to Toronto for the NHL combine and then it was draft day where he heard his name earlier than anyone expected.
Morrissey says his first professional camp was better than he anticipated as he dressed for a pair of games and was the third star in one of them.
“It was phenomenal,” said Morrissey. “I learned a lot from the players and the coaching staff. I felt I got a little better each day.”
Morrissey, who still hasn’t signed a professional contract, says the feedback he got from the Jets was very positive.
“They really stressed how happy they are,” noted Morrissey. “They just want me to continue to work hard and be a leader.”
It is unclear if he will be given the captaincy for the Raiders, but he is the odd-on-favourite considering no one had the “C” on opening weekend in his absence.
The whirlwind of activity surrounding the draft is behind him and his future appears to be settled so now all he has to do is focus on the Raiders. And the world juniors!
“Obviously it would nice to have a chance to do that, but that is a couple of months away,” said Morrissey. “I just want to focus on each day and each game and try and get better.”
That is good news for the Raiders and their fans with the first opportunity for both to see the smooth-skating rearguard in action coming this weekend when the Brandon Wheat Kings play a rare doubleheader at the Art Hauser Centre.
The Raiders, who moved up in the CHL rankings to No. 3, just got a whole lot better with his return.