Brouwer didn't want to hit friends - except Kane

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Brouwer didn't want to hit friends - except Kane

Sunday, Oct. 2, 2011Posted: 8:19 p.m.

By Tracey Myers
CSNChicago.com Blackhawks InsiderFollow @TraMyersCSN
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Troy Brouwer expected mixed emotions for this game.

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.

Marian Hossa named Blackhawks' nominee for 2017 Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy

Marian Hossa named Blackhawks' nominee for 2017 Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy

The Chicago chapter of the Professional Hockey Writers Association has selected Marian Hossa to be the Blackhawks' nominee for the 2017 Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy, which recognizes perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey.

The 38-year-old winger has bounced back in a huge way following a 2015-16 campaign where he had only 13 goals and 20 assists in 64 games. 

Hossa is tied for second on the team with 24 goals and ranks sixth on the club with 42 points in 66 contests this season. He ranks fourth among active players with 1,131 points, and recently surpassed Pat Verbeek to move into 35th all-time in goals scored with 523.

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Three finalists from the 30 NHL teams will be named at the end of the regular season.

Pit Martin (1969-70) and Bryan Berard (2003-04) are the only two players in Blackhawks history to win the honor.

Johnny Oduya feeling better, more up to speed with Blackhawks

Johnny Oduya feeling better, more up to speed with Blackhawks

Perhaps the best thing about the Johnny Oduya trade back to the Blackhawks, for both parties involved, was that Oduya wasn't needed immediately.

It's not that the Blackhawks didn't want the veteran defenseman, who helped them win Cups in 2013 and 2015, back in the lineup as soon as possible. Oduya was coming off an ankle injury, one he re-aggravated and missed about a month when he was with the Dallas Stars. He needed time to fully heal and with the Blackhawks in good shape in the standings and with solid depth at defense, he could.

Now with the playoffs right around the corner, Oduya is feeling more like himself.

Outside of missing two games that were the second halves of back-to-backs, Oduya has been playing steadily since March 9. Oduya's minutes have ranged from around 16 to 21 in games. He said he's now 100 percent healthy from his injury and he's feeling the difference on the ice.

"It makes a big difference," Oduya said on Thursday, prior to facing the Stars for the first time since his trade back to Chicago. "I mean, obviously sometimes you get more or less lucky, depending on what you get and the style of play and what you do or not. Skating is a part of my game I try to use as much as possible to get in good position and try to take away time from the opposition as much as possible.

"Even with battling and things like that, of course it's nice to feel more confident," Oduya added. "In any situation, you're in you want to feel confident on the ice."

The Blackhawks have seen that confidence in previous postseason runs and are looking to see it again in Oduya. Coach Joel Quenneville considers Oduya, "Mr. Reliability."

"You look back at what he delivered for us, not just the regular season, but he's been solid and reliable in the playoffs. He's assumed some important matchups and important minutes," Quenneville said. "Last year, we didn't have him on the back end and watching him this year, it was the perfect fit him coming back."

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The Blackhawks' defensive group hasn't changed much since Oduya's first stint here. The system probably hasn't been altered much, either. Still, Oduya's not taking anything for granted and is trying to get back on the same page quickly.

"Same as the last time I came into a great hockey team and I really just want to get up to speed and up to date as quickly as possible," Oduya said. "Little things that may have changed. I want to fit in as well as I can. That's the idea anyone has coming in late in the year. The guys here make it pretty easy; the coaching staff is familiar with the way I play and helps speed up things a little more."

The Blackhawks are trying to be their best heading into the postseason. So is Oduya. He needed a little extra time to get back to health and he may still need a little time to get back to speed, but he's just about there. 

"I feel pretty good. Of course it's a lot easier when you have guys around you you've seen before, a coaching staff," Oduya said. "It's a work in progress, anyway. I want to be better, I want to evolve with the team and want us to be better, too. It's a work in progress."