Jets taking a run at cancer
D-man Morrissey leads Jets' charge to raise money for research, treatment
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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 22/11/2021 (311 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Josh Morrissey showed up at Canada Life Centre on Monday looking like a million bucks. And he hopes the eye-popping suit he was sporting on “Hockey Fights Cancer” night raises plenty of cash for a cause near and dear to his heart.
The Winnipeg Jets defenceman wore a custom-made purple blazer in honour of his father, Tom, who died in August of a brain tumour. Morrissey and his teammates will sign the jacket, which is being auctioned off this week through NHL.com. All proceeds go to the Canadian Cancer Society.
“It’s a special night. It’s a night that, for me personally and our family, it’s kind of been marked on the calender for a while,” Morrissey said prior to puck drop against the Pittsburgh Penguins.
“It was a tough year, and certainly summer, for us, losing our dad. But (Monday night) means a lot for us. It’s a lot of emotions. There’s happy thoughts, obviously some sad as well. It’s a great initiative by the NHL, and certainly going to be playing for him.”
At game time, the current bid was at $1,275. The auction will remain open until Saturday at 6 p.m.
“I was just thinking about ways, something you could do to make it a little bit more special. For us, my dad was in the financial world so he always wore suits. Growing up, when we had to get our first dress shirts, ties, whatever, for hockey, he was always the one kind of taking care of us. First suits, all that kind of stuff,” said Morrissey.
“It was always important to him, he was always dressed sharp. I just figured it would be a nice tribute to him to get a jacket done up for the night and auction it off. So that was kind of the genesis behind the idea. It’s come together. It’s a little more wild of a colour than something he would wear, but I think he’d be pretty proud of that.”
Morrissey said his father was his mentor and role model, along with his minor-league coach for years.
“The biggest connection between my Dad and I was hockey and the game,” he said. “I wouldn’t be here without him helping me and coaching me to go after my dreams. So many memories throughout the years along the road to getting here. It’s been pretty crazy, there’s so many people that have been touched by cancer, within their families, friends. (Monday) is all about keeping those people in our memories and trying to keep the faith for people that are battling cancer, and continue to try and raise money to find better treatments and help for people.”
The Jets organization has been touched my cancer in recent years. Massage therapist Al Pritchard has already fought two battles with the disease, inspiring the “Pritch Strong” apparel plenty of players and staff have worn. Associate coach Jamie Kompon is currently on leave to be back in California with his wife, Tina, who is battling breast cancer. The Jets have been wearing clothing bearing a pink ribbon and her initials at times this season.
“It’s a significant battle they’ve been fighting for a long time. It’s been years now,” said Jets coach Paul Maurice, who also has a close family member currently stricken.
“And if you’re going to try and find an example — hopefully you never have to go through it — but if you have to and you were going to try and find an example of people continuing to live and fight and experiencing life and part of other people’s lives, it would be the two of them. You don’t get a chance to know Tina and how she’s involved, like Christmas, the baking she does. We roll into Anaheim, everybody puts on 10 pounds.”
Kompon was on the bench for the season-opener in Anaheim and has been staying in touch with Maurice and the rest of the club.
“Jamie’s work ethic from afar would astound you. The amount of video that that man grinds on his off days and puts up on One Drive so we can all… it’s incredible to watch how productive their lives have been and they’ve been battling this for a long time. It’s almost an inspiration, right?” said Maurice.
“There’s not a lot of days where you have an excuse to get out of bed late because he isn’t. She isn’t. You need to get your but out of bed because Jamie has already sent you 10 things that you got to look at and his five texts saying, ‘Have you seen it yet? Have you watched the video yet?’”
Jets forward Nikolaj Ehlers said he has loved ones fighting cancer right now and recalled how Morrissey’s dad befriended his own parents during one of their first trips in from Denmark. Just like Morrissey, Ehlers’ was coached for years by his father, including at the upcoming Olympics on Denmark’s national team.
“(Tom Morrissey) was always happy when my family was here, he would talk to them. I remember that. That was very special for me. But he was always a happy guy, a very nice guy to talk to,” said Ehlers. “I think our dads were pretty similar in the way they tried to find a way to be the dad, and the coach, at the same time. They are dads, they try to help us in any way to fulfill our dreams. That’s special.”
November is Hockey Fights Cancer month in the NHL, and each team hosts one game in that span where they come up with ways to try and make an impact through awareness and fundraising.
“In a difficult situation, it’s a great connector for all of us and probably everybody sitting in that building (Monday night). This is going to be the toughest game of the year because there’s probably going to be some kids come out on the ice and I’m going to be staring at my feet, for the most part, trying to get through it like everybody else,” said Maurice.
“It’s tough, and then you also get inspired at the same time.”
Mike McIntyre grew up wanting to be a professional wrestler. But when that dream fizzled, he put all his brawn into becoming a professional writer.