Defenceman Josh Morrissey has been named the Winnipeg Jets’ Masterton Trophy nominee for the 2021-22 season.
On Monday, it was announced by the Jets that the 27-year-old blueliner was the selection brought forward out of the Winnipeg Chapter of the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association in time for the joint league release.
The award is handed out annually to the player who “best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship, and dedication to ice hockey.”
“I think those are the things you could really learn from playing sports,” Morrissey said of the award criteria. “I think that is what my parents, and my dad, really loved about having kids in sports, and certainly in hockey, the teamwork element, the perseverance when it doesn’t always go your way. Certainly, you’re going to have tough games or little setbacks along the way. Sticking with it, not giving up and doing it with a smile on your face.”
Morrissey has overcome the death of his father, coach, and mentor Tom this offseason, and in turn, put together one of the most productive seasons of his NHL career.
“Not a day goes by that I don’t think of him, or something doesn’t remind me of him,” he said of his late father. “The phone calls after the games are probably what I miss as much as anything. Like I said, I never played a game in my entire career away from home, from junior to world juniors, all those different things, where we didn’t talk after the game. Now having fans back and allowed in the arenas, I know that he kind of had aspirations to knock off as many different road cities as possible and see games in the different cities. Of course, that’s something that we can’t do – there are all sorts of things like that.”
Tom, who passed of cancer back in August of 2021 – one day before his 70th birthday – would have been proud of his son’s charitable work in the field of cancer care research in his honour.
Morrissey raised more than $3,700 for the Canadian Cancer Society by auctioning off a “game worn” purple velvet blazer as a tribute to his dad, who loved fashion.
“The reaction kind of blew me away,” Morrissey reflected. “At first, I just wanted to sort of do it for myself and my dad, as a tribute to him. Then I kind of thought maybe there was something more there or something we could do to raise awareness or raise some money. The support from the organization in helping with some media stuff and doing some video and different things, the support from friends and family about how they thought it was a great idea. And the NHL as well to feature it was kind of beyond anything that I ever thought of when I just had the idea on a whim. It was really important and I think a big success at the end and actually the crazy story is that a friend of ours who I got to know over the years actually bought the blazer and has decided to give it back to me so I can keep it and I had no idea. I thought that was a pretty touching thing for someone to do.”
On top of his involvement with cancer research, Morrissey also served as an ambassador for The Dream Factory and by hosting The Josh Morrissey Classic, an event that raised nearly $300,000 for Manitoba children battling life-threatening diseases during the first three years.
“The charitable things are important. The Dream Factory thing has been amazing,” he said. “I feel almost selfishly that I get more out of it than what I really can contribute. Meeting some of the kids and their families and what they go through, the kids and their families, it’s just unthinkable. I was just lucky to have a healthy childhood, with hockey and opportunity and everything else. These kids and their families have that taken away from them. It’s just remarkable, some of the stories. I really just feel like I get more out of it, to be honest, when you hear these stories and talk to these kids and their families. It’s always been important, the charity side of what we can contribute as NHL players and hopefully I can continue to make a difference in the community. Like I said, do whatever I can. It’s not that much, but hopefully it’s something.”
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Morrissey also started his own foundation called Glass Half Full Foundation, which helps raise funds for various Mental Health programs in Winnipeg and his hometown of Calgary.
“My dad was always someone who told my brother and I from a young age that whatever you do, you have to give back and help people,” he said. “That was something that he always did, whatever he could do, whether it was time or financially, he would do whatever he could to help people. I remember as a young kid, going to Flames practices and meeting some of the guys, that he always made sure to tell us afterwards that if you guys ever end up making it to the NHL that you always remember that. Crazy enough, I guess I did and I certainly do remember that, so I try to pay that back as well now. It’s the least you can do.”
Through 76 games this season, Morrissey has 12 goals, 35 points, and 62 penalty minutes, all career-highs. He has had three three-game point streaks and has put up six multi-point outings on the season.
He has six power play goals and another eight helpers on the man advantage. Morrissey has three game-winning goals on the season while putting up 168 shots on net and owning a career-best shooting percentage over seven percent.
Morrissey, who is in his seventh year with the organization, has a vast appreciation for True North Sports + Entertainment, the coaching staffs of both the Manitoba Moose and the Winnipeg Jets, as well as the many teammates he has had the opportunity to skate alongside over his time in Winnipeg. Previously having had the chance to skate with his brother as a teammate in Junior and his dad as a coach in minor hockey, the importance and appreciation of what his father did for him will never be forgotten.
But aside from the on-ice skills, it was his off-ice training Morrissey appreciated most importantly.
“He always tried to teach us something in any situation, from small things to big things, so I think that’s kind of molded my personality and my brother’s,” he said. “You see something like this happen and obviously it’s a very tough time but my dad was still a young guy but I think he lived his life to the fullest. He treated people with respect and kindness every day. You know, held the door open, he was kind of old fashioned in a lot of ways and that was fantastic and I know he always instilled those things for us — manners and just treating people with respect. That’s all it is and that’s not that hard to do so, I think all of those things that he taught us live on in my brother and I and is sort of the standard that I feel we have to uphold because of the type of person that he was. That impact that he had on people, as you said, as an educator. He took every opportunity to help somebody.”
Tom Morrissey was 69.
He left behind his sons Josh and Jake.
“I remember he always used to tell me to look at things with a glass-half-full approach,” Morrissey. “There’s a lot of times where it was hard to find that half-full view, but I think that was his sentiment to us always growing up, to look at things in a positive way. It was always a climb, you could never really reach the peak but you were always along the journey and you’re always on the climb. There’s going to be little peaks and little valleys along the way, but you’re never at a dead-end. Regardless of your situation—good, bad, anything else at any give time—it’s just a point along the road on the journey. You’re on the journey to reaching where you want to be. That’s where he always tried to help us.”
Morrissey was voted upon by the 10-member Winnipeg chapter, including:
Ken Wiebe, Sportsnet
Ted Wyman, Winnipeg Sun
Paul Friesen, Winnipeg Sun
Jeff Hamilton, Winnipeg Free Press
Mike Sawatzky, Winnipeg Free Press
Jason Bell, Winnipeg Free Press
Mike McIntyre, Winnipeg Free Press
Murat Ates, The Athletic
Scott Billeck, Winnipeg Sun
Carter Brooks, Game On Magazine
Now going up against 31 other PHWA-selected nominees from each of the other NHL clubs, Morrissey will certainly be a long-shot to win the Masterton, let alone be named as a finalist, but the impression has certainly been made with his nomination.
The winner will be revealed alongside the NHL’s other awards following the regular season.
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