- The Washington Times - Friday, July 31, 2009

Brendan Morrison admittedly dodged some bullets as he played in 542 consecutive games from 2000 to 2007. But after four surgeries in three years, he suffered a far worse fate.

The Anaheim Ducks put him on waivers.

“It was the most embarrassing moment I’ve had as a player. Here’s a team basically telling you they don’t want you,” Morrison said. “They try to tell you it’s a money issue and blah, blah, blah - but yeah, it made me upset.”

Morrison moved on to the Dallas Stars to finish last season, but his comeback from injury and embarrassment is just beginning. After signing a one-year, $1.5 million deal with the Washington Capitals earlier this month, Morrison is eager to prove he can stay healthy and contribute.

He called it an easy decision to join the Caps because of Alex Ovechkin and the team’s ability to contend in the Eastern Conference. And it was worth it to take “maybe a little bit” less money than he could have gotten from other teams.

“That’s kind of the trade-off. Do you wanna go to a team that you can maybe make a little more money, maybe not as good a team, and you might not put up as good [statistics]?” the 33-year-old center said. “Or do you wanna come to a team that you think you can fit in, they play a style that you like to play, and you have a better chance of putting up better numbers?”

Last year was full of questions for Morrison, who recorded 10 goals and 12 assists in 62 games with Anaheim before improving his production with Dallas (six goals and three assists in 19 games). Still, for a player known for strong skating, it became a “mental battle” when he wasn’t at full speed and had to make up for a lack of power and leg strength.

But more than anything else, Morrison is trying to show getting injured and waived isn’t the final chapter of his career.

“More than anything, it has been a motivating factor for me,” he said. “I’m preparing for this year [and] that I can come back and have a good year and say, ‘I can still play, and last year was an aberration.’ ”

Jurcina decision delivered

After a day’s worth of waiting, the arbitration panel finally issued its decision on Caps defenseman Milan Jurcina, awarding him a one-year contract. A league source confirmed late Thursday night that it is worth just under $1.4 million.

The deal, since it falls under the collective bargaining agreement’s threshold that would allow a team to walk away, is binding and leaves the Caps with 10 defensemen with NHL experience under contract.

Jurcina played in 79 games last season for the Caps, recording three goals, 11 assists and a plus-1 rating.

Jurcina’s agent, Allan Walsh said it would be “unprofessional” to talk about the number figure. He did say “We’re pleased with the result.”

Fellow defenseman Brian Pothier said earlier Thursday he didn’t envy the position of general manager George McPhee and others in the organization.

“I think it’s great to have the depth,” Pothier said. “Obviously there’s gonna be some disappointed people come training camp, and that’s a juggling act that they have to do is to try to keep everybody happy. … But to have the depth at that position, it’s nice. It’s a nice luxury to have.”

Pothier keeping busy

Pothier worked with children from the Capitals Academy summer camp at Kettler Capitals Iceplex on Thursday - just a break from his summer routine. He’s up to six days a week of workouts as he and strength and conditioning coach Mark Nemish have balanced conditioning, weightlifting and on-ice sessions.

“It’s building that foundation back up that I lost,” Pothier said. “For whatever reason, whether injury or whatever, the last three, four summers I haven’t been able to really get after it. This summer I have. It’s a good feeling.”

Pothier and his wife, Gwen, are expecting their third child next week. The couple already has two boys, and while the timing shouldn’t be a surprise - a Caesarean section is planned for 8:30 a.m. Aug. 7 - Gwen didn’t want to know much more in advance.

“She’s hoping.” Pothier said. “She [had] nine more months to hope that it’s gonna be a girl.”

• Stephen Whyno can be reached at swhyno@washingtontimes.com.

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