Brendan Morrison is a Survivor
New Caps center Brendan Morrison was in California surfing with ex-teammate Brad May during the offseason when May mentioned this idea he was working on. He wanted to join up with Les Stroud--the star of a Canadian outdoors show called Survivorman--to do an NHL-themed wilderness show, a takeoff of Stroud's week-long trips into the middle of nowhere to survive by himself in the wild.
"If you ever pull it off," Morrison told him, "let me know."
Not long after, the two men were on a golf course together. "The deal's done," May told Morrison. "Are you in?"
Morrison, being an outdoorsy kind of guy, agreed. Which is how he wound up flying to the remote Northern Ontario town of Hornepayne last month for a crash course on outdoors survival. What was originally intended to be two days in the Ontario wilds got cut in half, when Stroud developed some concerns about the hockey folks's readiness. But he got them all in a room, showed them how to build a shelter and start a fire with flint, gave them tips on what they could eat, and then "basically said show up tomorrow with the clothes on your back, you guys are going in the bush," Morrison recalled.
"We dropped out on a floatplane in the middle of nowhere," Morrison told me at the Caps practice rink in the Ballston wilderness. " It was pretty wild--no food, no water. You had to find all that stuff."
Morrison was teamed with a ex-NHLer Kris King, NHL linesman Steve Miller, and a sponsor. The four men were offered their choice of supplies at various checkpoints, and chose a pot to gather rainwater and a saw to help build their shelter. They thought about trying to catch a four-legged meal, but the opportunity never really presented itself.
"We saw a squirrel," Morrison noted with a laugh. "It was so fast. We were like, 'Hey, there's a squirrel,' and then it was gone. So as we were hiking we were just eating wild berries. They were great."
They were warned that they might see bear or moose, but they saw only tracks. ("I don't know about a bear, [but] a moose would have been cool," Morrison said.) They successfully erected a shelter and started a fire. And then they sat at their camp, talking about how long they could survive in the bush.
"We were just thinking, 'could you imagine sitting here by yourself?' " Morrison remembered. "You'd be scared to death. You cannot see five feet. Every little noise you hear, what the heck is that? I don't know how long I could do it. With a group I could do it for a while, but on my own, it'd be tough. I need some more practice."
Anyhow, the event was put on to raise money for the Hornepayne ice rink; highlights are scheduled to air in December. And while Morrison is an avid outdoorsman who hopes to check out opportunities in the D.C. area, he isn't sure how much the experience will help him on the ice.
"Maybe late in the shift when you're tired and you've got to get through your shift, you've got to survive sometimes," he offered.
And wild berries?
"No wild berries," he said. "We're gonna have to look into that. Maybe an energy boost or something."
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