Josh Morrissey’s fall off the cliff with the Winnipeg Jets has got to be one of the greatest mysteries of the hockey world. No one can explain why he fell so hard and so fast when he appeared to be a perennial good player for the Jets. How this happened is hard to say and yet here we are.
Morrissey was expected to carry the load this past season even though he has not been able to for years. His play completely dropped off and it seems like he has no direction in the defensive zone at all. At first it appeared that this drop off was tied to Dustin Byfuglien retiring and the loss of Toby Enstrom, but Morrissey has never bounced back. Even with Neal Pionk outperforming Jacob Trouba, It simply appears that Morrissey lost his ability to be a number one defender in the future when he was asked to do it.
There was a bright spot with Morrissey and it came in the playoffs against the Montreal Canadiens. In what almost reads like a desperation move, Paul Maurice paired Morrissey with Dylan DeMelo and Morrissey looked much more stable defensively. Maybe that is a sign of what is to come. With the Jets shoring up their defence, could the possibility of Morrissey having more support lead to him playing closer to who he was when he first started in the league versus who he has been for the past few seasons.
Hockey is a fickle mistress and Morrissey is the perfect example of that. He went from a defender that you could imagine driving play and creating offence to one who seemed to forget how to do much at all. The weird falloff gives me hope someone could possibly salvage his game, but there are more and more defencemen who just fall off and never come back. Maybe Morrissey will break this trend, and hopefully he will, but if he doesn’t it will make his career one big What If? What if he had not been given the burden of being the Jets number one defenceman with inadequate support early on? What if the coaching had been better with a stronger system in place? We may never know why Morrissey fell off the cliff; we can only hope that the Jets changes on defence can help lift Morrissey back closer to the player he once was.