ST. LOUIS -- When the Blues acquired Troy Brouwer via trade from the Washington Capitals for one of the more polarizing figures (T.J. Oshie) in recent franchise history, it wasn't necessarily received with open arms.
But by the end of the regular season and into the Stanley Cup Playoffs, the 30-year-old Brouwer won over the hearts of Blues fans and showed the kind of moxie needed to help St. Louis advance to the Western Conference Final for the first time since 2001.
Brouwer finished the postseason with eight goals in 20 games, more than the seven he had scored in the previous 78 playoff games; he added five assists to give him 13 points after 18 goals and 21 assists playing in all 82 regular season games.
|Blues right wing Troy Brouwer
Brouwer can become an unrestricted free agent on July 1 and he addresses his impending status, his time in St. Louis and if he'd welcome a return:
On removing playoff beard:
The wife's a little happier. She wants us playing, but she gets to see what her husband looks like again.
After processing it for a couple days, can you be satisfied with your season?
We can be happy with the progress that we made. The fact that we were able to get deeper into the playoffs that this team has in the past couple seasons, but it's still kind of the same attitude. Unless you're putting rings on your finger at the end of the year, it's always going to be a disappointing end.
Is this the legacy of this team?
Hopefully this team is still writing their story to the top. There's not many teams that can go straight there. You look at the Sharks for example. They've played for so many years and are finally getting a chance at the Stanley Cup and we're hoping we're going to be one of the teams next year, a team competing at the end for a chance to win. We made some great strides this year as a franchise, as a team in the dressing room, getting guys experience going a little bit deeper in the playoffs, what it takes to close teams out, to move onto the next round. The mentality in here is still disappointment for this year, but excitement (and) looking forward to another opportunity next year.
On fitting in St. Louis; could have worked out any better?
I knew my style of play was going to complement the team. I liked the way they played here and I thought I would be able to fit in pretty well and I thought I did. Early on, it was finding myself in the dressing room with leadership roles, friendship roles. That took a little bit longer, but I feel like I found my spot here. I really enjoyed my year here. I'm not quite sure what's going to happen going forward here, but it was an amazing year for me and an amazing experience for me and my family. We really want to thank and compliment the city of St. Louis and the St. Louis Blues for such a warm reception and the love that they showed me and my family all season.
Are you open to coming back?
It's a spot that we really enjoyed this year. Kind of no different than what I said after the last game, I don't know what exactly what the cap situation is. I know it's a business and I know they have young guys coming up for contracts in a year or two. You can't just look at this season. You have to look forward to what their cap situations are going to be in years to come but it's definitely a team and a city, a franchise I would love to come back if the opportunity makes itself available.
Why are you not the only player to say this city is your spot. Why is that?
It's just such a comfortable area. The guys in here are awesome. I love every one of them. It's a pleasure to come to the rink every day and have fun and play beside and work beside these guys. All the way through the trainers are phenomenal guys. They work so hard for us and they're just as big a part of the team as we are. They make it run. You may not see them on the ice, but they're the guys that make sure we can do what we do. The city is phenomenal, the support that we had in the playoff run. There's a lot of things that go into just loving the team that you play for and it shows even with the alumni association, how many guys stick around after they're done hockeying. It's a great city, it's a great organization, it's one that guys love to be a part of.
How rewarding was it to have such a productive postseason?
Considering I wasn't able to contribute, I'd say offensively in previous postseasons, to be such a big part of it and such big moments, personally it's rewarding but to see the look on the guys' faces when we move onto the next round and the next round and win those big games and be a part of that, it was an amazing experience for me. It was a lot of fun, but yeah, we still wish we were playing.
Was it nice to score game-winner against Chicago in Game 7 and hear Oshie who?
I don't want anybody to forget Oshie. He was a great player for the franchise for a long time, but I'm glad that the trade worked out on both sides. I know he's going to have another good year in Washington next year. I was just glad that maybe I could get some of the people who were hurt by the trade hopefully on my side a little.
Why was this group able to bond the way it did?
We went through a lot of adversity at first, a real tough camp, a lot of injuries right out of the gate, so it forces guys to lean on each other more. When you're doing that, you see character in guys that you may not otherwise see. We had a lot of good timers together. Beers on the road, going for dinner, all that stuff contributes. Just seeing guys away from the rink as well as battling for each other and such, tough times at the beginning of the year, plus having success together, it brings guys closer together. Like I said, an unbelievable group of guys in here. I love every one of them and we had just a fun time this year. We had some tough times where things weren't going our way, but I think we just stuck together with good relationships and you see guys hugging each other after here and nobody wants to leave right now.
You said you knew you were good for the room when you told Hitch to shut up. How good did that feel?
I don't know if that was a good story to get out (laughing), but he's a guy that ... he's so passionate about the game, but sometimes you just need a break from hearing Hitch's voice. It wasn't a mean thing or anything. It was just a passionate hockey play and I think it was on the ice, I don't remember. Maybe it was a beating or something. I don't think it was as harsh as it sounds.
From a player perspective, can Hitch still press the right buttons?
(*answered before Hitchcock was rehired):
He is a great coach. He wouldn't have the record that he has if he wasn't. I'm not sure what his future is, I'm not sure what their thinking is, but he's a great Xs and Os coach. He always brings a good game plan for us. I don't know if it's the team or him deciding what's going to happen next year, but we wish him the best if he moves on and we wish him the best obviously if he stays here.
What would it be like not having a guy like Backes or a Shattenkirk back here next year?
They're big holes. They're big players. They're big names. They're big friends as well. So whenever you change one player, you change the dynamic of the team and there's a lot of uncertainty out there every season with every team and this year is no different. I don't know what trade rumors or inclinations there are with certain guys. I know Dave is in a similar situation as myself. We've got a couple new guys that are up for new contracts as well. There's a lot of moving parts that go into it. I guess management's going to have to sort through it and prioritize I guess.