Troy Brouwer already has what the rest of his teammates want — a Stanley Cup championship ring.
He won that ring in 2010 with the Chicago Blackhawks, the same Blackhawks he found himself playing against in the first round of the 2016 Stanley Cup playoffs.
“The goal is to get a Blues Stanley Cup ring,” said Brouwer, in his first season with the Blues after being obtained from Washington in a trade for T.J .Oshie. “I really cherish the one that I have with the Hawks but my whole focus right now is to get this franchise one as well.”
The Blues entered Thursday with a 3-1 series lead on the Blackhawks and Brouwer was asked about the similarities between the 2016 Blues and 2010 Blackhawks.
“I think we have a lot of the pieces that we felt like we had in Chicago in 2010 — great goaltending, good defensive corps and a lot of depth through our forwards,” Brouwer said. “Maybe we have a little bit more of an experienced team now than when I won in 2010 but very comparable as far as skill throughout, good experience, solid throughout - and the depth is what I thought really pushed us through our run in 2010.
“I think we have that ability and the depth to do it here as well.”
Leading by example
Since the Blues have never won a Stanley Cup since joining the league in 1967, confidence from a player like the 30-year-old Brouwer is a breath of fresh air in the dressing room. He joins with other veteran voices to form a solid leadership corps on a team that has fought against injuries and adversity all season.
The goal is to get a Blues Stanley Cup ring. I really cherish the one that I have with the Hawks but my whole focus right now is to get this franchise one as well.
Blues winger Troy Brouwer
“He leads the team in hits and physicality,” Blues veteran Steve Ott said. “He’s making monster blocks on the penalty kill and also he’s an offensive threat. When you add a guy like that with a veteran presence, a guy that knows what it takes ... he’s been to war, he’s won the dance.”
As a result, a physical presence like Brouwer wreaking havoc in a playoff series could be just the kind of ingredient the Blues need. Brouwer plays with an edge, and that includes using his body and stick to punish opponents — including former friends on the Blackhawks.
“At that point I’m just hitting another player, trying to finish my checks and doing what’s going to help my team win,” Brouwer said. “We can worry about friendships over beers in the summer time.
“It’s business. they’re trying to win just as much as we are.”
Brouwer’s leadership abilities aren’t lost on his teammates, including the veteran agitator Ott.
“All those passionate things that he does, it feeds the next guy down,” Ott said. “It makes your young guys accountable. It makes your skill guys accountable and you don’t want to let a guy like that down because you know how hard he’s playing.”
Stanley Cup memories
Brouwer hasn’t lost touch with former Blackhawks teammates Brent Seabrook, Andrew Ladd and Jonathan Toews.
“We haven’t had a lot of time to hang out, but my wife’s still friends with a couple of the girls over there and I’m still friends with a lot of the guys,” Brouwer said. “Whenever you win together you’re going to share that bond forever, but I haven’t talked to them much over the course of the playoff series.
“Their lineup has changed so much over the years that m,spot of the guys that I played with have scattered by now.”
All those passionate things that he does, it feeds the next guy down. It makes your young guys accountable. It makes your skill guys accountable and you don’t want to let a guy like that down because you know how hard he’s playing.
Steve Ott talking about Brouwer
Brouwer enjoyed his time in Chicago and will never forget helping the Blackhawks end a 49-year Stanley Cup championship drought. His favorite memory?
“Just how close we were as a group of guys, all throughout” he said. “Even now when we get together in the summertime, have a beer and catch up on each other, it’s a lot of fun just to share those memories and reminisce.
“A lot of the time you talk about memories that you don’t remember or you see from another guy’s perspective. It’s just fun to relive those memories.”
Kane and Toews together again
Chicago’s lineup was going to change anyway for Game 5 because of a one-game suspension to forward Andrew Shaw, but Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville also reunited superstars Toews and Patrick Kane on the top line.
The pair were held without a goal through the first four games of the series.
“At this point of the playoffs, sometimes things call for change,:” Kane said. “We haven’t played with each other much, so hopefully it’s kind of that instant chemistry and we can get a win tonight. That’s the most important thing, so hopefully it helps us.”
The Blues are aware of the offensive firepower possessed by Kane and Toews. Kane led the NHL in scoring this season with 46 goals and 106 points while Toews had 28 goals and 58 points.
The Blackhawks managed only seven goals through four games against Blues goaltender Brian Elliott. Can a change like this make a difference?
“Yeah, I mean, you like to think so,” Kane said. “It’s tough when you get the chances and you’re not capitalizing, especially in big moments in the game. (I) think I had a couple chances Last game in the second period there that would’ve given us a 3-1 lead or make it 3-2, so you score one of those it’s a totally different game.
“You can get as many chances as you want, but it comes down to producing. So, hopefully the chances are there and it’s on the verge of breaking through.”
With two goals and four points in four games, Shaw had been Chicago’s top scorer. He was suspended for one game and fined $5,000 for shouting a homophobic slur near the end of Game 4 and also making an obscene gesture on the ice.
“You could say he’s maybe been our most effective forward in this series,” Kane said. “I know he’s scored a couple goals around(the net) but on goals we’ve had as a team in general he’s been standing in front and creates a lot of havoc.
“We’re going to miss a lot. He’s a passionate kid and he plays the game that way too. Hopefully we can fill the void tonight.”