Derek Morris came to the Calgary Flames by way of the 1996 NHL Entry Draft. The defenceman from Edmonton was selected 13th overall by the Flames in the first round and would make his NHL debut in 1997.
Morris would have the rookie campaign the Flames were hoping for when they drafted him, playing in all 82 regular reason games, scoring nine times and dishing out 20 assists. The 29 point season was good enough to land him on the All Rookie Team and he would finish 5th in the Calder Memorial Trophy voting at the season’s end. He would also finish 8th on the Flames in scoring, but as would be the case with all five of his seasons in Calgary, the Flames would not make the playoffs.
Despite the lack of team success, Morris continued to trend upward for the Flames. He would have three 30+ point seasons in the next four years, with his 38 point effort in 1999-2000 being his best total with the Flames. His final two seasons with the Flames would be hampered by injuries as he would play in 122 games between 2000-02, but would still put up a respectable 62 points in that time frame. Morris’s final season in Calgary would be remembered for a tragedy that occurred against the Columbus Blue Jackets in March. A shot would deflect off of Morris and hit a 13 year old fan in the stands. She would succumb to her injuries only a few days after and that incident is what pushed the NHL to put netting up to protect fans in the stands.
After the 2001-02 season the Flames and Morris decided to part ways by sending the defenceman to the Colorado Avalanche. He would end up having the best year of his NHL career in 2002-03, posting 48 points for the Avalanche before beginning a pattern of short stays in lots of different places. Over the remaining 11 years of his journey he would make stops in Phoenix, NY (Rangers) and Boston, before getting some stability to round out his career with four straight years with the Coyotes again.
In five seasons with the Flames Morris would play in a total of 343 games, score 34 goals and hand out 129 assists. While playing more games with the Coyotes in total, his best points totals were in his five seasons with the Flames. In over 200 more games with Phoenix, Derek Morris would tally 11 less points (163 vs 152) than during his time with the Flames.
Morris last played in the NHL during the 2013-14 season and is currently an assistant coach at the high school level.
Other Players Having Worn #53 In Flames History
Johnny Gaudreau (2014), Buddy Robinson (2020)
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by Mark Parkinson