Josh Morrissey Q and A

Josh Morrissey is poised and ready to go! –

I had my first opportunity to meet the Winnipeg Jets’ top NHL prospect Josh Morrissey at the end of August.  After spending just a few minutes with him, my impression of his chances to make the Winnipeg Jets this season and stick with the team was definitely impacted.

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Winnipeg Jets prospect Josh Morrissey    photo courtesy of the Prince Albert Herald

In every picture I had ever seen of the Prince Albert Raiders captain, he had looked so boyish, so young.  When last season finally ended for the young Calgary product even despite his impressive playoff run with the St. John Ice Caps, I still didn’t think he’d get beyond the first nine games of the regular season when NHL teams either have to put up or shut up with their junior-age players.  At that point, it is either NHL or back to junior.  Stay and the first year of that entry-level contract kicks in or send him back and let him develop even further for another year.  But, a few observations.  This isn’t the same young Josh Morrissey the Jets have already learned to love and are eager to know more of.  He has put on ten pounds – all muscle – since last season and his face has moved from looking teen-aged to looking like a man.  And, although he is saying all the right things about doing his best wherever he ends up, the gleam in his eye told a different story.  He fully intends to spend the 2014-15 season in the NHL.

“Right now, my goal is to go to Winnipeg and make the Jets.  I’ve been training this off-season and getting ready with the attitude that I am going to go in there and do my best to take a spot and make the team.”

And, if there was any doubt about how ready he is, he put those to rest in his first pre-season game in the Western Hockey League against the Saskatoon Blades in front of the hometown crowd in Prince Albert.  Conceivably, one of the last times those fans will get to see him play at the Art Hauser Centre.

Morrissey helped pace his team to a 6-2 win with a pull-the-fans-outta-their-seat, leave them oohing and awing shorthanded marker.  While two men shorthanded, Morrissey stole the puck in the Raiders zone, chipped the puck past a Blades defender off the boards and to himself, then unleashed a glove side wrist shot to score one of the most impressive goals the WHL will see all season.

Josh Morrissey is oozing a quiet confidence but is maintaining the same modest, down-to-earth, cerebral approach that has become one of his trademarks.  The thought of having a lot of competition on the Jets roster doesn’t have him swayed in the least.

“It doesn’t matter if there are ten defencemen signed, or 20, I’m going to go in and compete and work my hardest to make that team.”

He didn’t say it as some tired old cliché that any prospective pro athlete spits out on a regular basis.  This was said with a tinge of determination and again that telling gleam in his eye.

Oh, and speaking of his eyes, mark my words, this young man will be the Jets’ next heart-throb for years to come.  He’s a handsome young man who will have the young ladies swooning.  But, right now, he doesn’t give something like that a second thought.  He’s just too focused on making the next few weeks some of the best hockey of his life.

 

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Is this the year for Josh Morrissey?       photo courtesy of the Prince Albert Herald

Even though he will be competing against bigger, older and more experienced men, Morrissey isn’t at all intimidated which is one of the biggest things that may have come out of his 20 game, nine-point playoff game with the Ice Caps to end his 112 games played in 10 month season in 2013-14.

He learned that he can compete and compete well at the highest levels.

“The AHL is a very competitive league.  A lot of people would consider it the second-best league in the world.  Definitely one of the top pro leagues out there and I realized I could play at that level and do well”.

But, his increased confidence also comes with the maturity and respect to recognize other factors that played into turning so many heads in that AHL playoff run.

“I was able to have some success but you’re not going to have any success if the coaches don’t give you the opportunity.”

He also gave credit to his teammates for their support and encouragement and helping to make the whole experience a positive one.  His coaches and teammates would probably express the same to him for helping the team get so close to a championship.

Coming into Winnipeg, Morrissey said he hasn’t really had an opportunity to talk with Head Coach Paul Maurice but has been talking to Jets Player Development personnel, Mike Keane and Jimmy Roy, along with Jets Assistant GM Craig Heisinger.

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Jets 2013 1st round pick Josh Morrissey    photo courtesy of the Prince Albert Herald

While Morrissey has vowed to be the best player he can be whether he ends up sticking with the Jets or heading back to Prince Albert, the Raiders are preparing for a season without Morrissey.  The team could be facing a double-whammy as budding superstar and 2014 third-overall draft pick Leon Draisaitl might also stick with the Edmonton Oilers.

Raiders GM Bruno Campese didn’t want to speculate on where Morrissey will play in 2014 but he fully expects Morrissey to earn at least a few regular season games and his team is preparing for the season like Morrissey won’t be around at all.

“If we get either of them back, it will be like a huge bonus for us.”

With Morrissey, you can see the mixed emotions for Campese.

“He has grown up here in Prince Albert.  In that time, his maturity level has gone through the roof and his leadership has been unbelievable.”

Campese said he is proud of the player and the person that Morrissey has become and he also commented on how Morrissey, the boy, just isn’t around anymore.

“He’s added about ten pounds of lean muscle.  He’s strong and strong on his skates and he just looks more physically mature.  I’m looking at him now and he’s a man.”

Whether he is the right man at this time for the Winnipeg Jets blue-line remains to be seen but he’s going to do everything he can to find a way on to the Jets roster and stay there.

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Comments

  1. Mitch Kasprick says

    If Josh is actually 6′ and 190 I think that he has a good chance to make the Jets this season.

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