Sunday, Oct. 2, 2011Posted: 8:19 p.m.
The Washington Capitals winger was facing his former Chicago Blackhawks teammates for the first time since he was traded this offseason, and facing them, potentially hitting them, was going to feel strange.
Well, except for maybe Patrick Kane.
"I've had to fight a couple times because of that little bugger. Maybe I'll give him a little payback," joked Brouwer, who had an assist against his old team in the Capitals' 4-1 victory. "I don't want to hit him and end up in the hospital with another shoulder surgery."
All kidding aside, Brouwer is excited about his new opportunity but still keeping memories and friendships from the opposing locker room close. Brouwer spent his entire young career in the Blackhawks organization and was a strong part of their Cup run, especially in the postseason.
But Brouwer struggled to find consistency last season. He also wasn't a factor in the playoffs, when he went point-less in seven games against the Vancouver Canucks. On the first day of the 2011 NHL Draft, Brouwer was sent to the Capitals for a first-round draft pick.
"I hadn't had one conversation with the Blackhawks before I got traded, so I knew something was coming," he said. "My agent had prepared me that some news might be coming soon. I had hoped there'd be talks to see where both sides were but nothing like that. I was just waiting on where I would go, rather if."
Brouwer also had to get healthy again after surgery to repair a torn labrum in his right shoulder back in May -- "it was pretty ugly," Brouwer said of the shoulder.
It took him four months to get back from that surgery, which he didn't have during the summer of 2010 because there wasn't enough time. So he played last season with the injury, which wasn't helped when he flew into the Montreal boards on a missed check last April.
Now Brouwer is trying to find his niche with the Capitals. He played in his third preseason game on Sunday, all of which have been on Alex Ovechkin's line. After getting past the early intimidation of playing with the superstar, Brouwer has settled in.
Brouwer is getting used to a lot of new. Sunday was a sentimental day, but it's part of the business.
"It's just playing against the old colors," Brouwer said. "It's difficult the first couple of shifts out there, not wanting to hit your friends. But I do have to move on."
Tracey Myers is CSNChicago.com's Blackhawks Insider. Follow Tracey on Twitter @TramyersCSN for up-to-the-minute Hawks information.