6B - Faceoff '96 - The Michigan Daily - Monday, October 14, 1996
Monday, October 14, 1996 - Faceof
Once more, two-gether
Michigan's offensive stars are in
sync on and offthe ice
All you need to know about everyone wearing the maiz
By Jim Rose
Daily Sports Writer
Brendan Morrison, Jason Botterill
and Blake Sloan are standing
shoulder to shoulder at center
ice, patiently having their picture taken.
The hockey publication organizing the
photo shoot is only one of the numerous
media outlets following the Michigan
hockey team since it won the national
championship last March.
After a couple snapshots, the photog-
rapher asks Botterill and Sloan to take a
step back, so Morrison can appear front
and center. Botterill gets a kick out of
this, and he can't pass up the opportuni-
ty to take a shot at his teammate.
He feigns offense at the insinuation
that he should appear in the background
behind Morrison, and bows dramatical-
ly in mock worship of his highly-visible
Morrison chooses to ignore his
friend, and breaks into a big grin.
"That's all right," he reassures the
now-hesitant photographer. "We're
used to it."
Botterill loses it at this comment,
laughing and taking a friendly slash at
If there's one thing Morrison and
Botterill ought to be getting used to by
now, it's attention. The pair has received
more than its fair share of adulation
over the past three years, and the
Wolverines' national championship last
season has turned this season into
something of a media circus.
"Oh yeah, there's more recognition,"
Botterill says. "You win the national
title, the whole team's in the paper a lit-
tle more than usual:.'
While Michigan hockey has steadily
progressed toward mainstream appeal
over the past few years, last season's
accomplishments may just be enough to
push the team into the national spot-
light. And with all the added distrac-
tions, the job of leading this team -
which, along with defenseman Sloan,
falls squarely on the shoulders of
Morrison and Botterill - isn't getting
Fortunately for the Wolverines, the
offensive duo is keeping things in per-
spective. Morrison is at peace with the
"It's just something that you take in
stride," he says. "That comes with win-
ning. You just have to stay level-headed
about it and keep an even perspective
Morrison's stellar reputation suggests
that he has no problem dealing with
media and fan attention, but this season
also presents circumstances that he may
be slightly less suited to handling: the
challenge to repeat.
Last year's team is the only champi-
onship- team of which Morrison has
ever been a part. And although he
understands the implications of the
label "National Champions," he also
concedes that this year will be some-
thing of a new experience for him.
The senior winger is no stranger to
the winner's circle - in fact, last winter
he became the first Canadian ever to
win three consecutive gold medals at
the World Junior Hockey
Championships. It is this kind of expe-
rience - knowing what it takes to not
just win, but repeat - that may be most
valuable to the Wolverines.
"I think it'll help out a little bit,"
Botterill says. "I think I've been in situ-
ations where I have been the favorite,
and (my teams) have been the defend-
ing champions. I think it may help out
in key situations."
Still, both Botterill and Morrison feel
Michigan's biggest advantage lies not in
the experience of one or two players,
but in the team as a whole.
"I think most of the guys understand
that we're gonna be getting the best
from (the other teams we play),"
Botterill says. "Maybe there will be a
little more pressure on us, but I think
we've got a pretty good group of guys
"And teams come after us anyway.
It's not as if we've been a bad team over
the last three years."
According to Brendan Morrison, Jason Bot
"a little riled up on the ice."
According to Michigan coach Red
Berenson, Botterill and Morrison work
together to give the Wolverines the kind
of leadership an upper-echelon team
"They complement each other
because of their different styles,"
Berenson says. "You wouldn't want
three players like Botterill on the same
Certainly not. You can't score with
three guys in the penalty box. But throw
in someone like Morrison ...
"When you get the two of them
together," Berenson says, "they get both
ends of the job done."
Morrison gives most of the credit for
the dirty work to his bigger, more phys-
ical linemate, but Botterill is quick to
return the compliment.
"The way we play sort of meshes
together," Botterill says. "He sets things
up, and he's very creative with the puck,
and that allows me to just do what I do
best, which is drive to the net.
"I realize that when I go to the net,
the puck's gonna be there. I've got con-
fidence that he's always gonna deliver it
To anyone who's watched the pair in
action, that much is apparent. The play-
ing styles of these two are as different
as can be. But Morrison says there's
more to it than that.
"At times, Jason gets a little riled up
on the ice"he says. "I'm sort of the guy
just to calm him down. So there's a
happy medium there between us."
Botterill laughs when he hears this.
"Well, I guess that's true," he says,
"but I also know that Brendan's a very
emotional guy out there on the ice
sometimes. But yeah, he holds me back
sometimes. I think Coach has asked
terill sometimes has a tendency to get
him to do that a bit."
It's clear that the on-ice styles of
these two stars are quite different. But
what about off the ice?
"Off the ice - same thing. We're dif-
ferent;' Botterill says. "But for some
reason, we get along really well togeth-
er. It's just something that's clicked."
It's something that's clicked so well,
in fact, that the pair has lived together
for the past two years.
Morrison agrees that the two are
unique in terms of personality, but he
says that the biggest difference between
the two - or at least what the public
perceives to be the biggest difference -
is not quite as big as it used to be.
"(Botterill) tends to be a little more
outspoken than me," Morrison says. "I
think people see me as being sort of
the quiet leader, just leading by exam-
"But as each year has passed, I've
said more and more in the dressing
room. And now, even more so, with the
title of captain - there's more of a
responsibility and leadership role, and
it's one that I'm looking forward to."
Ask Botterill about Morrison's devel-
opment as a leader, and he sounds like
... well, like Morrison.
"I think Brendan's always been a very
good leader by example" Botterill says.
"But I've also been very happy with the
way he's stepped up as a vocal leader in
our dressing room. I think that can only
help our team."
There's something funny about these
guys. It's one thing for them to be total-
ly different, yet perfectly in sync -
almost like they know each other's
thoughts - when they're on the ice.
But off the ice as well?
It's almost two much.
Brendan Morrison has been a steadying influence for the Wolverines over the past three seasons, and his teammates say he
has developed into a vocal leader as a senior captain.