Chicago still Brouwer’s kind of town

The Washington Times Daily - - Sports - BY STEPHENWHYNO

CHICAGO | Troy Brouwer left a part of him­self in Chicago. He still owns a house here, rent­ing it to John Scott be­fore the de­fense­man was traded at the dead­line.

But for Brouwer, who blos­somed into a full-time NHL player with the Black­hawks, Chicago still is a place that feels like home.

“Com­ing here, you kind of feel com­fort­able be­cause I lived here for the bet­ter part of three years,” Brouwer said. “I know my way around the city, and I kind of know where I like to go. Also just get­ting on the ice this morn­ing brings back a lot of mem­o­ries.”

Sun­day’s morn­ing skate and game against the Black­hawks marked the big right wing’s first trip back to United Cen­ter since he was dealt to the Washington Cap­i­tals for a first-round pick at last sum­mer’s draft. This week­end was an op­por­tu­nity for him to spend an­other cou­ple of nights in the Sec­ond City, but this sea­son has been a chance for him to bring Stan­ley Cup-win­ning ex­pe­ri­ence to the Cap­i­tals.

At 26, Brouwer doesn’t need to be the most vo­cal guy in the locker room, but that shiny cham­pi­onship ring from 2010 is a big part of his ca­reer re­sume.

“[Heck], he’s got a Cup. That says a lot right there,” right wing Joel Ward said. “He brings a lot to this team — phys­i­cal­ity and over­all good game. And a great guy off the ice. Ob­vi­ously, guys re­spect what he’s done and what he’s been in the past here.”

Go­ing into his first game against his for­mer team, Brouwer had 18 goals, just four shy of his ca­reer high, set dur­ing the sea­son he and the Black­hawks won it all.

Re­minders of that fill the city and the arena, but Brouwer’s fo­cus is on the present and a de­sire to hit the 20-goal mark.

“I’d like to be there al­ready. It’s been a pretty de­cent sea­son. I’ve bounced around from a bunch of dif­fer­ent lines. Some­times it’s tough to get used to,” said Brouwer, who be­came ac­cus­tomed to that shuf­fling in Chicago un­der coach Joel Quen­neville. “Hope­fully, I can cap it off with get­ting to that num­ber, but I’m just wor­ried about get­ting into the play­offs right now.”

Brouwer said most of the teammates he was re­ally close to with the Black­hawks have been traded, but he still keeps in touch with the train­ing staff, re­fer­ring to as­sis­tant equip­ment man­ager Clin­ton Reif, head ath­letic trainer Mike Gap­ski, equip­ment man­ager Troy Parch­man and as­sis­tant ath­letic trainer CAP­I­TALS AT DETROIT To­day: TV: Ra­dio: Jeff Thomas as a few of the peo­ple he missed the most.

But the Caps are glad to have him be­cause of what he has been able to do even when not putting up num­bers. Brouwer has spent time on the power play and on the top line and, de­spite a re­cent 13-game goal drought, man­u­fac­tures of­fense by screen­ing op­pos­ing goal­tenders.

“He does a lot be­hind the play that helps the team get goals with some screen­ing in front of the net,” line­mate Jay Bea­gle said. “A lot of peo­ple don’t see that be­cause it’s not on the score sheet. But it’s a lot of the rea­son why we put the puck in the net.”

Brouwer also is very adapt­able. Bea­gle said there was no real ad­just­ment time needed ear­lier this sea­son, so now the Van­cou­ver, Bri­tish Columbia, na­tive is at home in front of the net, in Chicago or in Washington.

And all that talk about bring­ing Cup ex­pe­ri­ence has proved true on the ice and in the locker room.

“He’s brought a lot of dif­fer­ent in­tan­gi­bles: He brings a phys­i­cal­ness that I think was hyped up in the pa­pers, but he’s also brought an of­fen­sive style,” line­mate Matt Hen­dricks said. “He’s scored some re­ally big goals for us, and he’s a leader around the room, a leader amongst the guys. He’s done ev­ery­thing, I think, that he’s been ex­pected to do.”

AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Nene av­er­aged 13.4 points and 7.4 re­bounds for the Nuggets, as he spent his first nine sea­sons in Den­ver af­ter he was taken with the No. 7 over­all pick by New York in 2002.

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