Transitioning from a professional athlete to a member of the ‘real world’ isn’t always easy but former Vancouver Canuck Brendan Morrison appears to be doing just fine.
Morrison’s 16-year NHL career ended in 2012 but it’s safe to say he’s been busy since walking away from the game.
“It’s an adjustment – no question. I think everybody handles it differently. You always think you are ready but when it ends, it ends abruptly even though you are semi-prepared for it,” said Morrison, part of the Canucks famed ‘West Coast Express’ line with Markus Naslund and Todd Bertuzzi in the early 2000’s.
There was a period of adjustment for the Pitt Meadows, B.C. native in which the regimented world of professional hockey was replaced with a lot more freedom, one in which his wife Erin helped him navigate.
“I found that as an athlete, you live your life off an itinerary. You’re told be here for breakfast at this time. Be at this meeting at this time. Be here at this time. When the season would end, I would tell my wife just to make me a list as I’m great at getting things done and she’d be like ‘No. You figure out the list and do it’ and I’d be like ‘just make it for me and I’ll get it done.’ We’d always have this back and forth. I had to take the initiative on a lot of things, so that was a big adjustment,” explained Morrison during our Moj on Sports Podcast session.
Having four children kept Morrison busy with no time to reflect. “I think a huge thing for me was my family. Having four kids, there was no time to sit around and think about things. With four kids, it’s like what’s the next activity? We’re going to hockey. We’re going to soccer. We’re doing football. We’re doing baseball. Dance lessons – whatever it was. So that was key,” he said.
According to Morrison, another key to the successful transition was finding another passion. An avid fisherman, his Reel West Coast Fishing company helped fill the void left by hockey.
“Starting a business in fishing and having my own fishing program was huge. I’m still doing that to this day – traveling around to amazing locations and fishing. (We’re) really trying to promote getting outside and enjoying the outdoors. Yes, a big part of it is catching fish but it’s just disconnecting from your phone and connecting with what I call the real world, which is being back out in nature,” he explained.
Morrison and his family recently moved to Northville, Michigan – which is situated halfway between Detroit and Ann Arbor – in attempt to be closer to his son Brayden, a sophomore forward with the University of Wisconsin hockey team, and his daughter Makenna, also a sophomore, who is a midfielder with the women’s soccer team at Miami of Ohio. The move was also made to give his other daughters – 14-year-old Kailyn and 17-year-old Taylor – better athletic opportunities.
Keeping tabs on his kids keeps Morrison occupied but he is also a part of a couple of other business ventures. While playing with Washington, Morrison got involved with the Strongman Group out of North Vancouver which has commercial real estate assets in B.C., Alberta and Saskatchewan. After his career ended, he and former Vancouver teammate Geoff Sanderson started a rental company in the oil and gas business in Calgary which is now in its tenth year of operation.
“I’ve got multiple things on the go and I’m very fortunate that I’m able to do it from my house. It allows me to be flexible and still do things with my family while I’m still getting stuff done,” noted Morrison.
Morrison also spent some time working on Calgary Flames television broadcasts as an intermission analyst but doesn’t see himself returning to that job any time soon. “I liked doing it and it was fun but I never did see it as a career for me. Sometimes I have a commitment issue and committing to forty games was a lot,” he chuckled.
As for the team he starred for, Morrison still keeps tabs on the Canucks from afar and recalled his time playing for current Canucks head coach Bruce Boudreau.
“I follow them and stay in tune with what’s happening. I had Boudreau in Washington. He was run and gun, which is fun for players, and I think maybe you’re seeing a bit of that there in Vancouver. He needed to hold guys more accountable on certain things but it was still a fun situation to play in,” said Morrison of his time as a Capital during the 2009-10 season.
Morrison is happy for now in Michigan but admits that he and his wife will eventually return to Vancouver.
“That’s the plan. I don’t know when but we will definitely be back there,” he stated.
When he does return, you can bet that he will be busy.
Veteran B.C. sports personality Bob “the Moj” Marjanovich writes twice weekly for Black Press Media. And check out his weekly podcast every Monday at Today in B.C. or your local Black Press Media website.