Chicago Blackhawks still special for Brouwer
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This summer, it will be 14 years since the Chicago Blackhawks selected Troy Brouwer in the seventh round of the NHL draft.
Eight years since Brouwer won a Stanley Cup with the Hawks. And seven since Brouwer donned the Indian Head sweater for coach Joel Quenneville.
As that time has passed, so have the strong emotions that once flooded over Brouwer when he returns to the United Center to face the Blackhawks.
"The first couple times you come back it's weird. It is," said Brouwer, whose Calgary Flames played the Hawks on Tuesday. "But I've been on a few different teams now and played here enough times that it's just another road building."
Of course, right about that moment, WGN Radio play-by-play man John Wiedeman walked by and gave a nod to Brouwer.
"That being said," Brouwer continued, "I have so many good memories here. Even just talking to the security staff in the halls. … You still have relationships with them, and that's what makes it special. You can't go 10 feet (without) seeing somebody that you know and shared some good experiences with."
Brouwer scored 49 goals for the Hawks from 2008-11. He had 4 during the 2010 Stanley Cup playoffs, 2 of which came in a 6-5 victory over Philadelphia in Game 1 of the Final.
Because of weather issues, the Flames didn't arrive in Chicago until 11:30 p.m. Monday, which meant Brouwer couldn't grab a beer or a bite to eat with good buddy Brent Seabrook.
Brouwer, who has 3 goals and 12 assists for a Flames squad fighting for a wild-card spot, admitted it's weird to see the Hawks at the bottom of the Central Division.
"They do have a lot of turnover every year and sometimes it can be tough to get everybody on the same page," Brouwer said. "But it is kind of shocking to see because of how good they are, how well they're coached and how much success they've had over the past decade."
The 32-year-old Brouwer, who also has played for Washington and St. Louis, has two years remaining on his contract. When he does retire, you can bet Brouwer will root hardest for the franchise that still holds a special place in his heart.
"I know it's a business and you kind of have to move on, but I still feel like a part of the team at times here," Brouwer said. "It's one of those things that when you're done (playing) you're always going to be cheering for the Hawks and the city of Chicago."
Connor Murphy, who was expected to be a healthy scratch against the Flames, was sick Tuesday and did not participate in morning skate. Murphy was acquired from Arizona for Niklas Hjalmarsson in the off-season but has been scratched six times this season.
He carries a $3.85 million cap hit and is signed for four more seasons.
Coach Joel Quenneville offered no specifics as far as what Murphy needs to improve on, saying: "It's not like it's permanent. It's competitive (and) when we do make decisions it's not always easy. … When we took out (Michal Kempny last game) it's not like he was deserving to come out. You look at everyone's case -- everyone has a reason to say they should stay in the lineup."
Corey Crawford was on the ice for a fourth straight day, but there is still no timetable for when he might return to game action. … Heading into Tuesday's game, Vinnie Hinostroza was third on the Hawks in scoring during the calendar year with 5 goals and 6 assists. Hinostroza trailed Patrick Kane (4G, 10A) and Nick Schmaltz (8G, 6A). … In addition to Connor Murphy, Lance Bouma and Tommy Wingels were the Hawks' other healthy scratches against Calgary.