Monday, August 8, 2011
Brunette eager to wear Hawks' crest
By Jesse Rogers
Andrew Brunette may not be the fastest, but he knows his way around the net.
It was an easy decision for new Chicago Blackhawks' forward Andrew Brunette. When the Hawks reached out to him at the onset of free agency on July 1, he took the call immediately.
"As a hockey buff and historian growing up I've always dreamed of wearing an original six jersey," Brunette said at a Monday introductory news conference. "For me it's probably the best crest in all of pro hockey."
Brunette and Dan Carcillo were unavailable during the weekend of the Blackhawks fan convention, so they had their own day to meet and greet the Chicago media. One theme emerged: Chicago is indeed becoming a destination for would-be free agents.
Brunette was told how well the players were treated by former Hawks players Cam Barker, John Madden and Martin Havlat. All were teammates of Brunette in Minnesota this past season.
"They had everything good, nothing bad to say," Brunette explained. "They bragged about the organization to anyone that listened. At times we got tired of listening to it. It was always how good Chicago does things and how they treat their players. Word travels fast in this game, and when you're doing something right every player kind of hears about it."
That must be music to the ears of the Hawks' brass who were looking on, including general manager Stan Bowman.
"It's obviously great feedback," Bowman said. "It starts with the top. When he [owner Rocky Wirtz] came in he made it clear we're going to do things the right way. There is the Blackhawks way. John McDonough stresses that all the time. We want players to play here for a number of reasons. We're going to do everything we can to continue to make this a destination."
Brunette is infamously slow of foot but has produced no fewer than 15 -- but no more than 27 -- goals in each of the past 11 seasons. He knows where to find the scoring areas, but he turns 38 on Aug. 24.
"It's tough to lose a step when you get older if you never really had one," Brunette joked. "A lot of guys or coaches see me skate and say 'Oh, boy what did we get ourselves into,' but I've been blessed with other abilities."
The Hawks have been looking for someone to stand in front of the net since trading Dustin Byfuglien last summer. Brunette doesn't have the size that Byfuglien has but possesses the know-how.
"I think I can think the game fast," he said.
A bonus to coming to the Hawks is playing 41 games at the United Center. Brunette first played there in 1996 when the building was full, but he remembers the lean years and is thrilled the good times have returned.
"To play in this building is one of the biggest treats of being a professional hockey player, especially the last few years," he said. "When this place gets rocking there is nothing like it. I can even say in pro sports, I've been fortunate enough to be in a lot of different places and it gives you chills."