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Morrissey and Trouba will be friends for life after helping each other earn huge NHL contracts with Jets and Rangers

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They came from very different places — one is from Calgary, the other from Rochester, Mich.

One played U.S. college hockey, the other major junior in Canada.

One wore the Maple Leaf internationally, the other the Stars and Stripes.

And yet, the game brought them together, on and off the ice, in Winnipeg and now in different cities, where they’ll both anchor their team’s defence for the better part of the next decade.

Here’s the story of how good buddies Josh Morrissey and Jacob Trouba helped each other earn big, long-term NHL contracts with different teams.

NEW YORK — Josh Morrissey was heading for the golf course on a mid-June day when he first heard the news that his defence partner — and one of his closest friends — had been traded away from the Winnipeg Jets.

His immediate reaction was mixed.

“I was excited for him and obviously sad at the same time,” Morrissey said this week as his team prepared for Thursday’s NHL season opener against Jacob Trouba and the New York Rangers.

Morrissey and Trouba played together on a shutdown pairing for the better part of three years and they were somewhat like family.

They lived together early in their days with the organization and Trouba, though just a year older at 25, became somewhat of a mentor to Morrissey as he made his way through the team’s system.

“Our friendship off the ice is something that will last a long time,” Trouba said Wednesday after the Rangers practised in Tarrytown, N.Y.

“Even during training camp, I’ve been talking to him regularly. We bounce ideas and stuff about our games off each other since we know each other pretty well. It’ll be interesting playing against him.”


TORONTO, ON – MARCH 31: Josh Morrissey #44 of the Winnipeg Jets celebrates a goal against the Toronto Maple Leafs during an NHL game at the Air Canada Centre on March 31, 2018 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. The Jets defeated the Maple Leafs 3-1. (Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images)

Morrissey knew as well as anyone that Trouba was dealing with a difficult situation for most of his time with the Jets. It was important for his fiancée, Kelly, to live in the United States and work as a doctor, which didn’t fit well with Trouba being a hockey player in Winnipeg.

Morrissey knew his friend wanted to be traded to an American team, and on June 17 of this year, Trouba finally got his wish, going to the Rangers for defenceman Neal Pionk and a first-round draft pick that turned out to be promising Finn Ville Heinola.

“It’s tough to lose a good friend from the team but that’s kind of how the game works,” said Morrissey. “I’m happy for him to have an opportunity to be a star in New York.

“We had become really good friends, especially when we became partners. I lived at his place for a bit of time. He took care of me, I took care of him.”

Trouba quickly signed a seven-year, $56 million deal with the Rangers and will be the defensive anchor of a team that also includes star winger Artemi Panarin and prized rookie Kaapo Kakko, the second overall pick in this year’s draft.

He’s on the top defence pairing with Brady Skjei, who is actually a friend of his from high school, will be the point man on the power play and will kill penalties regularly. He seems destined to be one of the top minute-munching defencemen in the NHL.

Meanwhile, Morrissey wasn’t going anywhere, but he’ll have a similar role in Winnipeg.

A year after taking a bridge deal to help the Jets with their salary cap situation, he signed an eight-year contract extension worth $50 million last month.

Morrissey wants to be in Winnipeg and will likely be the team’s captain in the future. He’s had an ‘A’ added to his jersey already this season.


Winnipeg Jets defenceman Jacob Trouba straps up as he gets ready to face the Pittsburgh Penguins in Winnipeg on Tues., Nov. 27, 2018. Kevin King/Winnipeg Sun/Postmedia Network

He did things his way while Trouba did his own thing.

They both got paid.

And while it won’t be easy for Morrissey, or any of the other Jets players, to see Trouba wearing Broadway Blue on Thursday night, it seems everyone understands and supports his decisions.

“Since the trade has happened there’s been a little more light on him and how he’s trying to do what’s best for his family,” Morrissey said. “Selfishly, as his teammate and his friend, I would have loved it to be different and play together forever, but at the same time, immediately, I was happy for him and Kelly and his whole family to have this opportunity that makes his life a lot easier.”

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Trouba appreciates the friendships he made in Winnipeg, mentioning players like Morrissey, Adam Lowry, Mark Scheifele, Andrew Copp and Zach Bogosian as people he’ll know for life.

It seems there will always be a special spot for his old defence partner.

“Ever since he got there, we were two young guys who helped each other out,” Trouba said of Morrissey. “We hung out a lot together, went to a lot of dinners, spent a lot of time together out of the rink. We gelled naturally away from the rink and that just helped our game on the ice and it went pretty well for us.”

In an interesting twist of fate, Trouba and the Rangers will host the Jets in Thursday’s season opener for the two teams at Madison Square Garden.

It’s his first game for a new team, first home game and first game against his former team all rolled into one.

“The first game, on a new team in New York, I think that’s more what I’ll be thinking about,” Trouba said. “The Jets thing is just an added piece to it. The biggest difference is playing against your friends, but I’ve played against my friends on other teams before. That’s nothing too crazy.

“It’s just that it’s the first game as a Ranger, first game at MSG and I want to make it a good memory.”

Trouba spent six seasons with the Jets and grew into a No. 1-pairing defenceman who was strong in both ends of the rink. He scored eight goals and had 50 points last year and obviously would have been a tremendous anchor for the Jets defence for years to come.

Unfortunately, his desire to play in the U.S. forced the Jets’ hand and they had to trade him before he could walk away as a free agent in 2020.

Some Jets fans are surely still bitter that Trouba didn’t want to stay with the organization, but the defenceman has repeatedly said it was nothing against Winnipeg.

In, fact, on Wednesday, he had plenty of kind words about how he’ll remember the city where he started his pro hockey career.

“I guess it’s just how I kind of grew up there,” Trouba said. “There’s a lot of good memories on the ice but more off the ice with the people who I lived with.

“I did a lot of growing up from 19 to 25 so that’s probably my biggest thing — the memories I have from doing that. On the ice, we had some good teams, some really good players. There were a lot of special moments. Your first goal, the first time you played in the playoffs, the ups and downs we went through from where we started to where we got to. Those are things that are special to be a part of and you remember them forever.”

When he sees his buddy on Thursday, Morrissey hopes to give him stick tap during the warm-up, maybe crack a joke before a faceoff, just let him know again that’s he’s happy for him.

“You want the best for your best friends.”

— With files from Scott Billeck

[email protected]

Twitter.com/Ted_Wyman

Contract negotiations with Jets very different for Morrissey and Trouba

NEW YORK — It was pretty telling the way Winnipeg Jets general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff answered the question when he was asked his thoughts on his team opening the NHL season against Jacob Trouba and the New York Rangers.

He started out with some kind words for the player he finally traded away in June, after six somewhat rocky years in their relationship.

He wished Trouba well after his years of good service with the Jets and said he was happy to see that a player the scouts identified and drafted, and the organization had developed, had turned into such a good performer.

Then he quickly changed the narrative to a much more positive subject — the recent signing of defenceman Josh Morrissey to an eight-year contract extension.

He didn’t come right out and say it, but Cheveldayoff was clearly pointing out how much Morrissey’s situation with the Jets was the exact opposite of how Trouba’s time went in Winnipeg.

“What’s exciting is the commitment a player like Josh Morrissey has made to this organization, and really true to form with how things went last year,” Cheveldayoff said. “I spoke to Josh and I actually got a chance to talk with his dad in Calgary when we were there for the exhibition game (recently). These are big family decisions as well. Going through the contract situation last year when we needed Josh to take a bridge (deal) in order to try to keep this group together to try to take a swing at it last year.

“Those are the types of things, the types of sacrifices and commitments players make and, again, for us, that’s one of the high points. Signing players like (Kyle Connor and Patrik Laine) is a high point and signing Josh to the contract that he did really shows the commitments that these players have and the belief they have in this room.”

— Wyman



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