Inside Blackhawks legend Brent Seabrook’s hunt for a hockey second act

LANGLEY, British Columbia — Mazen Leslie, a 17-year-old defenseman from the WHL’s Vancouver Giants, was watching TV one night time when he stumbled upon a rerun of an outdated film.Chicago hearthThe episode noticed a well-known – if clean-shaven – face.

Leslie paused the TV, took a fast photograph on his telephone, and instantly despatched it to Brent Seabrook.

Seabrook texted the suitable again.

Sure, I’m an actor too. I can do all of it.

He is nonetheless everybody’s massive brother. Even when he’s sufficiently old to be their father.

They name him Seabs. Neither Coach, nor Mr. Seabrook, nor Brent. Simply Seabs. It was at all times simply Seabs. It did not take lengthy for this consolation degree to achieve the Giants; Seabrook has that impact on individuals. Definitely, for all times Blackhawks Giants winger and cheerleader Ty Halaburda admitted he was a bit “star” the primary time Seabrook confirmed up on the Ladner Recreation Middle for a observe. However then Seabrook began doing Seabrook issues—posting aliases, cracking jokes, making guys really feel good, and telling tales in regards to the good outdated days.

stated Halaburda, who was six years outdated when it was his hometown Canucks He beat his beloved Blackhawks within the 2011 playoffs. “He is truthfully like one other man. Only a nice man, an awesome character, and he is so humorous.”

Marian Hossa and Brent Seabrook in 2011 (Jonathan Daniel/Getty Photos)

Formally, Seabrook is a volunteer participant improvement coach for the Giants. He makes the four-hour drive from his residence in Kelowna each two weeks to do some one-on-one work with Giants defensemen. He’ll have interaction within the energy recreation. He works with Giants head coach Michael Dick — who coached Seabrook within the WHL greater than 20 years in the past as an assistant with the Lethbridge Hurricanes — to develop teaching plans. He watches practically each recreation on the Web and has distant entry to the Giants’ video system and makes recommendations on layouts, particular groups, tics, and particular person methods to gamers.

It is no odd Seabrook pastime. Take it severely.

“He is so passionate, and he loves the sport,” Giants assistant coach Adam Maglio stated. “He works with the teaching workers and is clearly linked to the gamers. So, there are loads of one-on-one conversations with the fellows, or we’ll use him in a bunch speak. He is sort of a Swiss military knife for us when he comes up.”

Seabrook is a volunteer as a result of, greater than three years after his final recreation in NHLremains to be beneath contract with Tampa Bay Lightning Till the tip of subsequent season. (Sure, Seabrook has a Lightning jersey along with his title on it at residence; he thought it could be enjoyable to ask for one, and Tampa Bay was completely satisfied to oblige.) Giants normal supervisor Barkley Barnetta joked that Seabrook is “the highest-paid draftee within the WHL,” because of that deal he made. It lasted eight years and a $55 million greenback that was as soon as a serious concern in Chicago.

Working with the Giants was a pure first step out of retirement. His mother and father lived in Tsawwassen, within the southern suburbs of Vancouver the place the Giants practiced. So when Dick went on to educate Workforce Canada on the World Junior Championships final 12 months, he requested Seabrook to fill in behind the bench for the Giants for a number of weeks.

“My report is terrible from that, however I realized rather a lot,” Seabrook stated.

“I believe we went from 2 to 9,” Parineeta stated, laughing. “So I instantly thought, let’s carry him again!”

Now Seabrook has a coaching bug, which comes as a shock to him. He is one of many head coaches on the CHL/NHL Prime Prospects recreation Wednesday night time in close by Langley, teaching towards Conor Bedard. On Tuesday afternoon, he was on the ice at Langley Occasions Middle, main drills, hitting pucks, speaking to gamers, and even clearing nets afterwards to make room for Zamboni. He appeared like a cushty man in retirement. He appeared like a man who was having enjoyable and in place.

However the truth is he’s a younger man – he’s solely 37 years outdated – and he has all his life forward of him. And he is simply making an attempt to determine find out how to spend it.

“It is bizarre to say I am retired, when my dad was 66 and he isn’t,” stated Seabrook. “However I like hockey. I’ve at all times liked it. I need to keep within the recreation, however I do not know precisely what I need to do proper now.”

Seabrook was in tears when he known as Michael Terry, the Blackhawks workforce doctor. Three months after a debilitating and deteriorating hip harm pressure him into early retirement, Seabrook wasn’t getting any higher. In truth, he was in agony.

“I could not stroll,” Seabrook stated. “I known as Dr. Terry and stated, ‘I can not stay like this.'” “

Seabrook underwent an MRI scan. Noticed a again specialist. Noticed a hip specialist. Lastly, he bought hip alternative surgical procedure, and it modified his life. Simply 5 weeks after the operation, Seabrook was so happy that he known as his physician and instructed him earnestly that he needed to return to the NHL.

“He made enjoyable of me and stated, ‘No, you are not,'” Seabrook stated.

However he can skate once more. He can journey once more. All of a sudden, a second hockey profession appeared lifelike. He cannot do something till his contract expires subsequent 12 months, so within the meantime, he is making an attempt to study every part he can about what he calls the “different facet” of hockey. There’s the developmental work with the Giants, and now the teaching at Prime Prospects Sport. He had his outdated Blackhawks teammate Colin Fraser scout for the Hlinka Gretzky Trophy, marveling at how Fraser was displaying off what these 16- and 17-year-olds would appear like in Blackhawks uniforms 5 years down the highway. He stays in common contact with Blackhawks normal supervisor Kyle Davidson, assistant GM Norm McIver and hockey advisor Brian Campbell.

“He is in my workplace asking what the GM is doing. He is outdoors asking what the coach is doing. He is speaking to the athletic coach, the tools man,” Barnetta stated. “He is very fascinated about each side. He simply sees the way it all works. Fascinating to see that. I do not know what he is planning on doing. I simply hope he would not come over to take my job.”

Kelowna native Brent Seabrook involves work with the Vancouver Giants two or 3 times a month. (Courtesy Vancouver Giants)

Coaching appears to suit naturally. It is onerous to think about Seabrook grinding it down the lonely path as a Scout. He belongs within the locker room, his massive voice and massive character permeating each sales space. He was the beating coronary heart of the Blackhawks for 15 seasons, and it is no shock that he returned to that function with the Giants, even when the gamers have been practically twenty years youthful than him. It took him some time to discover ways to work with youthful gamers—within the NHL, he was surrounded by confirmed winners who did not want a lot hand-holding—however he rapidly tailored. The Giants wanted extra instructing and extra persistence. He wasn’t simply ordering them to tug the move whereas he was defending by belly-sliding; He was displaying them precisely find out how to do it and which particular angles to chop.

However greater than that, study to attach together with your gamers on a extra fundamental degree, to achieve out to them and instill in them a winner’s mentality. Most coaches have both by no means performed within the NHL or are many years previous their taking part in days. Even Giants assistant coach Jim VanderMeer, Seabrook’s teammate with the Blackhawks within the late 2000s, was eliminated 11 years from his final NHL recreation.

Seabrook is not only a title. It is the title of those guys Flag.

“He is younger,” stated Giants ahead Samuel Hunzik. “It was solely a short while in the past he was nonetheless taking part in. However he is additionally straightforward to speak to. He will not chew your head off.”

“It was loopy to have a man like that round,” stated Leslie. “He teaches you all of the issues about find out how to be a professional and find out how to keep there all these years. He is gained three cups, so it is loopy. Something he tells you, it’s a must to hear it.”

“It is not simply somebody telling them this stuff, it is somebody who has actual expertise,” stated Parnetta. “He is been via it, and so they comprehend it. So if he says one thing, they’re like, ‘Oh, I get it.’ I may inform them the identical factor and so they would not hearken to me. However when Brent Seabrook says it, they are going to.”

Already veering in that path late in his profession, Seabrook welcomed the rookie Kirby Sprint In his residence and information all season. And now he is making use of every part he is realized — find out how to speak to younger players, find out how to attain out to younger players, find out how to join with younger players — into the Prime Prospects Sport. It is a truthful positive, however for all these gamers making an attempt to compete for a draft spot behind Bedard, the strain is overwhelming.

Seabrook is doing every part he can to alleviate that strain.

“It is a recreation filled with gamers who should be put in conditions to present their greatest,” stated Seabrook. “My focus is to have enjoyable and preserve them unfastened. They’ve 300 scouts within the crowd, and all these things is happening. So that you attempt to get one of the best out of them and have some enjoyable. It is the way in which I needed to play. That is what I needed the dressing room to be, a enjoyable place.” And my voice was actually loud so I managed to get it that means generally.”

It is bizarre to retire so early. You are feeling remoted and defenseless. You might not miss the every day grind and bodily burdens of the sport, however you are feeling queasy with each season begin and each opening recreation you did not get to play in. You additionally go from seeing your greatest pals daily to not seeing them in any respect. You are feeling like an outsider, and it is not an awesome feeling.

After Patrick Sharpe retired, Seabrook seen that they weren’t speaking a lot, and it bothered him.

So I gave it—at some point. Why do not we speak?” Seabrook recalled. “It is like, ‘It is onerous to speak to you guys. You are busy. You are on the highway. You are on this city or that city. I am pondering of calling you, nevertheless it’s a day. Sport, and I do not need to disturb you. I verify the schedule and say, ‘Okay, I will name tomorrow.’ However then I neglect and it is too late.”

Seabrook understands that now. desires to speak to Jonathan Toews And Patrick Kane Typically. He desires to see how issues are beneath Luke Richardson. He – like everybody else – desires to know which means they lean on the subject of no-action clauses because the commerce deadline approaches. However he largely stays away. He went to the Blackhawks-Canucks recreation on Tuesday at Rogers Enviornment and was planning to meet up with the fellows after the sport, however the workforce was going straight to the airport for Calgary, so there wasn’t a lot time. He stated he discovered that textual content messages usually tend to be returned than calls.

This isn’t his world anymore. taken from him a number of years too early; The spirit was prepared however the physique was weak, properly worn out from 1,114 common season video games and 123 playoff video games. However with a brand new joint and a recent look, he is in search of a second chapter in hockey as soon as his contract lastly expires.

Possibly will probably be in junior hockey, right here in Vancouver with the Giants. Possibly he’ll be within the NHL, once more in Chicago, with the one workforce he is ever recognized. He nonetheless has 17 months to search out out.

In the meantime, he’s content material to be an unpaid volunteer for a junior hockey workforce. Hey man, hockey hockey. And “humble” is a phrase the Giants throw round rather a lot whereas speaking about Seabrook.

Driving a van from Kelowna to Vancouver. He ignores Parneta’s provide to have the workforce cowl the gasoline. He goes out for beer with the Giants workers. He provides his telephone quantity to every Giants member and tells them to name or textual content at any time. He sends them texts of encouragement, congratulations or constructive criticism after the matches.

And sitting within the room with the boys, he tells tales about Ken and Toyos and Keith and the great outdated days.

Again on the ice, again within the room, again in his aspect. Seabs simply being Seabs.

“I am simply making an attempt to have enjoyable,” Seabrook stated. “Hockey is enjoyable. It is alleged to be enjoyable. And also you play your greatest if you’re having enjoyable. Proper now, I am simply completely satisfied to be within the recreation once more.”

(Prime photograph of Brent Seabrook at Prime Prospects Sport observe Tuesday: Bob Frid/Courtesy Vancouver Giants)

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