Jets’ Josh Morrissey waiting out COVID-19 pandemic in Winnipeg as NHL season remains on pause

Winnipeg Jets defenceman Josh Morrissey answers questions on a video conference call on Tuesday.
Winnipeg Jets defenceman Josh Morrissey answers questions on a video conference call on Tuesday. Winnipeg Jets

While most players on the Winnipeg Jets headed home when the NHL season was put on pause due to the new coronavirus pandemic, defenceman Josh Morrissey decided to hunker down in Winnipeg.

With the team already in Calgary, Alta., when the season was postponed, the Jets let Morrissey remain in his hometown while the rest of the team flew back to Winnipeg. But speaking on a video conference call on Tuesday, Morrissey indicated that after about a week in Cowtown, he and his girlfriend drove to Winnipeg to ride out the pandemic.

“Our house here has a lot better setup for staying in shape and working out and stuff like that,” Morrissey said. “We have a decent home gym here, which (we) really don’t have back in Calgary, so that was a big part of the decision to drive back and be able to continue working out and try to stay in the best shape possible.”

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Morrissey has a Peloton bike at his residence in Winnipeg to keep active. But the uncertainty surrounding when the hockey season will actually resume makes it difficult to keep as close to game shape as possible.

“A summer program changes as the summer months go by,” he said. “But for now, for me anyway, I’m just trying to train and gain some strength and stay at a high fitness level in order to come back and play. I guess if, at some point, we are told that it’s going to be longer, that it’s not going to be until next season or anything like that, then I’d probably adjust my program to more a sort of traditional off-season program.”

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But workouts aside, like everybody else, Morrissey has a lot of time on his hands these days.

“We’ve been watching some Netflix,” Morrissey said. “We watched the Tiger King series, which was definitely pretty interesting. We binge-watched that. It was pretty captivating. But other than that, just trying to sort of stay in a routine.

“We’ve got everything organized in the house. We’ve done the spring cleaning, probably for the next four or five years we won’t have to do it. We’re trying to stay as busy as possible and also trying to stay in touch with our friends and our families.”

READ MORE: ‘We just want to play’ — Winnipeg Jets head coach still hopeful NHL season can resume

The 25-year-old had five goals and 26 assists in 65 games before the season was halted. And he feels his game took a giant step forward in his fourth full NHL season.

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“My game started to improve throughout the year,” he said. “I think, honestly, looking back at the season after having some time to reflect now on the games we played so far … it might be the most important year in my career going forward … because I think learned so much about myself as a player, as a person, what drives me and how to handle adversities as well.”

Morrissey was in the midst of his first season as an alternate captain after being given the “A” when Dustin Byfuglien didn’t show up for training camp.

“The first game of the season, having the ‘A’ on the jersey, and that was something I’ll never forget,” Morrissey said. “It was fun. I felt like I started to get a little more respect from the refs and the linesman.

“I try to take the nice-guy role. I think Mark (Scheifele) does the bad cop. I do the good cop, and then Blake (Wheeler) just overall handles everything else.”

READ MORE: Coronavirus — Jets captain Blake Wheeler plays teacher role while hunkering down in Winnipeg

Morrissey is still hopeful the season can resume at some point. He understands that right now, hockey has to be on the back burner but says he would be devastated if the season was just called off entirely.

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“It would just be so disappointing on so many levels,” Morrissey said. “I think everyone realizes this situation, the pandemic, is much bigger than sports or anything like that. But at the same time, for sure, we’ve worked really hard this year to put ourselves in a position to try and make the playoffs. I really feel in the last couple weeks, we were really surging as far as our game. I felt like we were playing the best hockey maybe we played all year at least.”