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Ducks waive Morrison as trade deadline nears

March 3, 2009 | 10:50 am

The Ducks placed center Brendan Morrison on waivers today, an attempt to clean up another mistake left behind by former General Manager Brian Burke.

Burke signed Morrison to a one-year, $2.75-million contract last summer even though Morrison was only a few months past major knee surgery. Morrison was supposed to take over the second-line center spot left open when Burke traded Andy McDonald, a bad strategic move made to create salary cap space for Scott Niedermayer to end his brief retirement at the start of last season.

But Morrison took a long time to regain his speed and wasn't consistently effective, relegating him to the fourth line and making him expendable. He had 10 goals and 22 points in 61 games.

If he's not claimed by 9 a.m. Wednesday, the Ducks can send him to their American Hockey League affiliate in Iowa and his salary would come off the cap.

They're hoping a team desperate for help up the middle might claim Morrison and give them cap relief and flexibility to make some moves before the noon Pacific Time trade deadline.

The move becomes part of Burke's mixed legacy in Anaheim. He deserves enormous credit for the Ducks' 2007 Stanley Cup triumph, completely restructuring their defense and adding toughness that complemented the skills of Niedermayer, Teemu Selanne, Ryan Getzlaf and others.

But he made a long list of bad moves that the Ducks are still paying for in every sense, not just the $1.33-million buyout money they have on their cap this season and next for Todd Bertuzzi.

He overpaid Mathieu Schneider and then had to dump Schneider this season in a package that included Ken Klee, whom the Ducks bought out. Trading Sean O'Donnell, another cap-driven move, further disrupted and weakened their defense.

The Ducks' decline since the Cup stands as an example of how difficult it is to manage a team in the salary cap era -- and emphasizes how remarkably well the Red Wings have managed their payroll and player development to remain highly competitive for as long as they have.

-- Helene Elliott