Originally written on NHL Hot Stove  |  Last updated 11/12/11
Stars_vs_blues_76bf

By Alexander Monaghan
President

By Dan4th Nicholas (Flickr: Eric Brewer)

Eric Brewer will face the St. Louis Blues for the first time since March 30th, 2004 on Saturday night, slightly nine months after getting traded to the Tampa Bay Lightning. The 19th captain in team history was jettisoned from the Gateway to the West in exchange for a third round pick and defensive prospect Brock Beukeboom — a third round pick himself and son of former NHLer Jeff Beukeboom.

Although the Blues finished only 10 points out of a playoff seed, GM Doug Armstrong knew at the trade deadline the team would finish outside of the playoff picture. Brewer, an unrestricted free agent at the time (re-signed with the Bolts this June), became the casualty to proper asset management, leaving a young team for a contender in the Lightning.

In Tampa, the 32-year-old has thrived — playing a physical, two-way game and frequently lining up on the top power play unit. He leads all Lightning skaters in time of ice this season and led them in TOI/G last year. While with the Blues he still played the heavy minutes — leading the team in TOI/G in three of his five-plus seasons, finishing second twice — but playing on a contender with the League’s spotlight attached has given him his due.

As a former opponent of Brewer, Bolts GM Steve Yzerman knew what he was getting via trade. From The St. Petersburg Times, in February:

“He’s a very poised defenseman, a big guy who moves well,” Yzerman said. “He makes the good first pass. He’s a steady, reliable, good defenseman. I think he’s a very versatile guy who can play either side, a valuable player.”

Not only has Brewer been versatile and valuable, he’s been the stabilizing force on the team’s blue line. Most importantly, he fits in, just like he did in St. Louis.

Wearing a Blues sweater, the Vernon, British Columbia posted career highs in goals while establishing himself as a vital defender who could hit, block shots, play physically and contribute offensively. Clearly there would be no ill will against the team that gave him such a responsibility. Under former head coach he earned captaincy due to his lauded leadership qualities which have clearly translated its way over to the Southeast Division powerhouse.

When asked, Brewer was nothing but exuberant when discussing his former club. “I played with a lot of them for a long time and we had some really good times there. I have nothing but good things to say about their organization,” Brewer said to TampaBayLightning.com. Unlike most players who feel like they have something to prove, Brewer and the Blues know each other well and should provide the audience with gamesmanship at its best.

Should be an excellent game to watch if not to see how Brewer reacts but also to see defensive masterminds Guy Boucher and Ken Hitchcock fight to maintain the under.


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