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Brendan Morrison says Roberto Luongo is the NHL’s worst fisherman

The form Vancouver Canucks forward shared stories about hockey and fishing in a long live chat on YouTube.
Brendan Morrison fishing
Former Vancouver Canucks forward Brendan Morrison now hosts a fishing adventure show called Reel West Coast.

According to Brendan Morrison, there are two types of NHL players: golfers and fishermen.

Morrison is a fisherman. 

In fact, the former Vancouver Canucks centre has turned his passion for fishing into a post-hockey career as the host of fishing show Reel West Coast. He made the delineation between golfers and fishermen during a wide-ranging live chat on YouTube that touched on both hockey and fishing in equal measure.

“When you’re a hockey player and you tend to have summers off, you either are a golfer or a fisherman,” said Morrison. “Predominantly, guys golf but you do have this unique group of guys that enjoy fishing more than golfing.”

Morrison’s love for fishing over golf started when he was growing up in the Fraser Valley thanks to his grandfather. 

“He was the guy that introduced me to fishing,” said Morrison. “My dad loves spending time with me on the boat and we can chat and have time together but my grandfather, he’d come out from Ontario and he’d take me out on the trout farm there in Mission and that’s where I got hooked.”

"He's been fishing since he learned how to walk."

Now, Morrison loves to pass along his love for fishing to others, whether on his show or in person. He would regularly take his teammates fishing with him when he was in the NHL and he named one of his former teammates as the best fisherman among current and former NHLers.

“I would have to give my nod to my buddy Willie Mitchell,” said Morrison, who played with Mitchell on the Canucks from 2006 to 2008. “He’s been fishing since he learned how to walk — his dad had him out on the water since an early age chasing salmon, and he’s done a bunch of river fishing. 

“He spent some time down in Florida, so he really got dialed into the pelagic fishery down there, with swordfish and tuna and running outriggers. He’s now brought that out to Tofino Resort and Marina where he’s a part owner. They run an awesome derby out there called the Race for the Blue, where guys are chasing albacore tuna up to 70 miles off shore now, which 5-10 years ago was unheard of.”

As for the worst fisherman, Morrison had to throw another former teammate under the bus.

“Worst fisherman? Man, I’ve got to go with Roberto Luongo,” said Morrison. “We had training camp one year at Bear Mountain. I convinced Lui and a couple guys to go fishing with me and the weather wasn’t the best — we got into this fog bank. 

“So, the guys that golfed that day, it was amazingly warm, but we sat in this fog bank all day and I remember Lui just curled up in the cuddy the entire time in a blanket. He wouldn’t even come out to the back deck. That was pretty comical.”

That would have been in 2007, Luongo’s second season with the Canucks. In retrospect, it’s amazing Luongo didn’t demand a trade back to the Florida Panthers sooner. After all, there are a lot fewer freezing fog banks in Florida.

"We've got to retire the sweater."

Morrison answered many questions about fishing and shared more stories from his time with the Canucks during the hour-and-a-half stream. He confirmed that he still chats regularly with his West Coast Express linemates — “at least once a month” — and shared that Markus Naslund and Mattias Ohlund would Facetime him from Spain, where they were “out having a good time.”

One of the best stories Morrison told is a prank the team pulled on Matt Cooke.

“One time, Matt Cooke came to practice and he had this old — he was so proud of it — cardigan sweater that he had on,” said Moarrison. “It was very suspect, but he was like, ‘This is the best thing ever, man.’ He was so proud of it.

“So, the guys were talking, like, ‘We’ve got to do something about that sweater. We’ve got to retire the sweater. This thing is so god-awful, we’ve got to get it out of here.’

“We arranged, when we went out to practice, to have someone sneak into the locker room and grab that sweater. It was at the old GM Place — Rogers Arena — and we had the sweater hung up in the rafters. Cookie had no idea that thing was up there until someone pointed it out to him. ‘Hey Cookie, I see you got your jersey retired.’”

Cooke might never end up in the Canucks’ Ring of Honour but he can say he had his sweater raised to the rafters. 

“That thing was terrible,” added Morrison.

"He's walking around like he's the Incredible Hulk."

Morrison also shared a Brent Sopel story from 2002, when Sopel was in a contract dispute with the Canucks. 

“Sopey was a good teammate, man, he was a good dude,” said Morrison. “They told him he needed to get stronger. So, training camp starts, and all the guys are back at camp but Sopey’s not there yet because he’s got his contract issue he’s dealing with. He finally signs, we’re 2-3 weeks into camp, and Sopey comes back and he’s 25-30 lbs heavier. 

“He’s walking around like he’s the Incredible Hulk, he could barely even turn.”

Morrison imitated Sopel’s newfound bulk and explained that Sopel went on a strict weight-gain diet over the summer, eating 12 chicken breasts per day and 15 eggs per day, even setting an alarm at night so he could wake up and eat more eggs. 

“He gets on the ice and he can barely skate because he’s so much heavier,” said Morrison. “I remember Crow — Marc Crawford — was on the bench and it was one of our last exhibition games and he’s just giving it to Sopey at the end of the bench. Ah, Sopey, you can’t even turn, you can’t skate. What are you going to do now, are you going to turn green on me?”

"I would never rule out getting back into the game."

While Morrison is focused on his fishing show and other off-ice pursuits, he doesn’t rule out a return to working in hockey in the future. In fact, he came close to working for the Canucks after he retired.

“When I first retired from hockey ten years ago, I actually was offered a very good job with the Canucks and I turned it down simply because I wanted to be around the family and I felt I owed it to my kids to be here and support them growing up,” said Morrison. “I think it would have been an awesome job to do that but I just didn’t want to travel 10-14 days a month right after I had retired. 

“I would never rule out getting back into the game, I still follow it, I’m in tune with it, I love the game. If the absolute right job opportunity came along, I would seriously consider it. The kids are getting older and moving out of the house here now, so we’ll see.”

In the meantime, Morrison continues to host Reel West Coast, which is currently in its fifth season. While he’s had some Canucks alumni on the show already, like Willie Mitchell and Dave Babych, he said that there are two specific Canucks alumni that he’d love to have on the show with him.

“I’ve actually talked to Marcus and Todd about getting them on an episode and they’re down with it,” said Morrison. “We’re going to try to make that happen. It’s not going to happen this year but next year.”

That’s right — a reunion of the West Coast Express is in the cards. It's just that it'll be on the water instead of on the ice.