Morris getting used to Boston

Navigating the city has been just as hard

September 24, 2009, 12:02 PM

By: Matt Kalman

The regular season, and the crucial mistakes that can occur in games that count, is still one week away.

So for now, Boston Bruins defenseman Derek Morris can still declare that finding his way around the streets of Boston is more difficult than adjusting to head coach Claude Julien's systems.

"I've been lost a lot. I've got a good friend, (Bay State resident) Harry Yandle, he's like an encyclopedia. I call him and say,' I'm here' and he goes take this, this and this and he gets me right out of it every time," Morris, who signed with Boston this summer as an unrestricted free agent, told after yesterday's practice. "My navigation helps me a bit, but he's like a road map."

Repetition has helped Morris grasp some of the basics of the city, including the fact that from the Public Garden the streets -- starting with Arlington -- are in alphabetical order. And the fact that the two of his three sons that are school aged go to the same school makes life in the morning easier as well.

On the ice, the 13-year veteran is absorbing the information from the coaches as fast as he can. The basic tenets are making sure you stay up tight on the puck-carrier, follow the opponents' passes, and when clearing the puck, if you get it ahead to the winger, trail behind just in case the puck doesn't get out. Unlike driving around town, relying on a navigation system or phoning a friend won't help Morris between the whistles. Brought to Boston to aid in solving opposing fore checks and bolster the power play, Morris has to commit everything to memory.

"It's repetition. I think mentally you think of it, but reactive-wise it's something different. So it's just really getting the reps and doing it," he said.

In past years, veteran defenseman Aaron Ward and Andrew Alberts have been vocal about their struggles adapting to Julien's systems. So that after a week and a half of camp Morris isn't tearing his hair out is a positive sign.

"We've got to make sure that we understand we're bringing this guy in and he's kind of learning the ropes as far as how we play," Julien said of Morris. "But we really haven't had our team together and he hasn't played with a guy that was here all last year that's going to help him along. That's one thing. But I watched him in practice (Wednesday), he looked good. His passes were crisp. He can shoot the puck. I think this guy will get better and better as we move on here."

As long as Morris limits getting lost downtown to areas away from TD Garden, he'll be fine.


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