Rockford, Ill.- In the world of hockey, two years really isn’t all that long. When a player is progressing through a team’s system en route to the National Hockey League, it is not uncommon for a player to spend two or more years in the minor leagues.
But one probably couldn’t fault Troy Brouwer’s impatience to get to the NHL. After notching 76 goals in his first two seasons in the American Hockey League, Brouwer was sent to the Rockford IceHogs following Chicago Blackhawks training camp last October.
The 6-2, 211-pound winger was tabbed as a prototypical power forward and his numbers, especially on the power play, backed that up. During the 2007-08 Brouwer tallied 25 power-play goals alone, just two shy of the AHL single season record.
Entering camp, Brouwer was not a lock to make Chicago, but his chances were much greater than the previous two seasons. After a strong start to the preseason, Brouwer stumbled a bit as opening night grew closer and was assigned to Rockford.
That is were the proverbial fork in the road came into play. The Vancouver native could have pouted about his re-assignment to the IceHogs or return to the AHL and prove that be did belong at the next level.
Brouwer chose the latter and the results were quickly noted. After just five games in Rockford in which Brouwer notched a pair of goals and five assists, Chicago recalled the winger and he never returned to the “A”.
“I had a lot of talks with my parents and my agent,” said Brouwer. “Just a lot of heart to heart talks I guess you could say and I realized that going to Rockford and pouting wasn’t going to do me any good. I had to play hard and prove that I didn’t belong in Rockford and I belonged here in Chicago. I feel that I did that I was able to stay here the rest of the season.”
The stint wasn’t the first for Brouwer with Chicago. During his rookie campaign in 2006-07 he played in 10 games in the show and appeared in two during the ’07-08 season. The difference this time around was the fact Brouwer was given a opportunity to keep a spot on the roster instead of filling in for one.
During his first mostly full season in the NHL, Brouwer accumulated 10g-16a-26pts in 69 games. Four of Brouwer’s goals were tallied on the power play and one while short handed.
"Last year was good for my development and I was able to score a lot of goals and get that side of my game honed I guess you could say," said Brouwer.
"You don’t always step into the same roles when you move up in leagues. I have to work from the bottom and finish my checks and really battle for my ice time and my position on the ice here. One of these days I will get my opportunity and I’ll start banging in goals like I did in Rockford."
The winger’s versatility was evident this season as he played on the Blackhawks top line with Patrick Kane and Jonathon Toews as well as the club’s checking line. Brouwer’s production might not have been where he wanted it to be, but after his first significant time in the NHL the maturation continues for him.
In the postseason Brouwer has been a physical force for the Blackhawks. In Game Three against Vancouver in the Western Conference Semifinals Brouwer had a Chicago postseason high nine hits.
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During the month of May, www.icehogs.com will profile seven former IceHogs players currently skating with the Chicago Blackhawks.