Brent Seabrook: A voice of authority on the Blackhawks
BY MARK LAZERUS firstname.lastname@example.org June 20, 2013 9:20PM
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Updated: June 21, 2013 6:22PM
Brent Seabrook spotted Jonathan Toews in the hotel lounge and asked him the same thing he had been asking him for a couple of days now: “What are you thinking about?”
Toews, absent-mindedly, responded, “Nothing. What are you thinking about?”
“And he looked at me again,” Toews recalled. “And I realized what he wanted me to say, and I snapped back and said, ‘Scoring goals!’ ”
Meet Brent Seabrook. Overtime hero. Stalwart defenseman. Life coach.
His friend, his teammate, his captain was slumping. Toews, the 2010 Conn Smythe winner, had gone 10 games without a goal, and all Seabrook read and heard was how Toews was playing well — how his defense, his draws, his leadership and all the little things he does so well made up for his lack of production.
Seabrook disagreed. And he wanted to make sure Toews did, too.
“To be completely honest, I was sick and tired of hearing everybody talk about everything Jonny’s doing right,” Seabrook said on Thursday. “He’s a great player, he’s one of the best in the league. I just told him that … he’s got to stop thinking about everything he’s doing right and stop worrying about not scoring goals. He has to score goals for us.”
And sure enough, Toews — reunited with Patrick Kane and Bryan Bickell on the Hawks’ top line — got that goal in a 6-5 overtime victory in Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Final, a game won on Seabrook’s second overtime goal of the playoffs.
Toews is the most heralded captain in the league. Duncan Keith and Patrick Sharp wear an “A” on their sweaters as alternate captains. Kane is among the more talkative, media-friendly personalities in the league. So Seabrook’s voice isn’t often the one the public hears.
But his teammates hear it plenty.
Toews said Seabrook’s the loudest guy in the dressing room before a game as he pumps himself and everyone else up. Hawks coach Joel Quenneville said Seabrook always has been the most vocal on the bench and at practices.
Seabrook followed Toews into the penalty box at Joe Louis Arena after the frazzled captain took his third consecutive penalty in Game 4 against the Detroit Red Wings, smacked Toews on the back and barked in his ear to calm down and collect himself because the Hawks needed him, and needed him to be better.
Seabrook is a couple of years older than Toews, and roomed with him in Toews’ rookie season, so it’s not exactly speaking truth to power. But it underscores Seabrook’s underrated leadership role. Not many players would — or could — do that in such a situation, in such a spotlight. But in his eighth year, Seabrook’s voice commands respect and attention.
“He always says the right things, and he’s a great teammate, a great competitor,” Quenneville said.
Four weeks ago, Seabrook could have used his own motivational speaker. Struggling at both ends of the ice, Seabrook saw his minutes drop considerably. But just as with Toews, Seabrook was sparked by being reunited with a longtime running buddy — in his case, Keith — in Game 5 against the Wings. Since then, Seabrook has been hitting more (4.27 hits per game vs. 3.0 hits per game in the first nine games of the playoffs), blocking more shots (1.4 per game vs. 1.1), and scoring more (three goals, including two overtime winners, vs. none). The Hawks are 9-3 since the pairings were switched.
After a slow start, Seabrook has made his presence felt. Just as he always has made his voice heard.
“He cares about his teammates and he wants guys to have success,” Toews said. “And just as much or more than anybody, he wants to win this thing.”