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17-year-old defenseman from the WHL’s Vancouver Giants, was watching TV one evening when he stumbled upon a rerun of an outdated film.Chicago fireplaceThe episode noticed a well-recognized – if clean-shaven – face.

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

Seabrook texted the precise again.

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

He is nonetheless everybody’s large 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 all the time simply Seabs. It did not take lengthy for this consolation stage to achieve the Giants; Seabrook has that impact on folks. Definitely, for all times Blackhawks Giants winger and cheerleader Ty Halaburda admitted he was just a little “star” the primary time Seabrook confirmed up on the Ladner Recreation Heart for a observe. However then Seabrook began doing Seabrook issues—posting aliases, cracking jokes, making guys really feel good, and telling tales concerning the good outdated days.

stated Halaburda, who was six years outdated when it was his hometown Canucks He beat his beloved Blackhawks within the 2011 playoffs.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 excellent character, and he is so humorous.”

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

Formally, Seabrook is a volunteer participant growth coach for the Giants. He makes the four-hour drive from his house in Kelowna each two weeks to do some one-on-one work with Giants defensemen. He’ll have interaction within the energy sport. 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 sport on the Web and has distant entry to the Giants’ video system and makes options on layouts, particular groups, tics, and particular person methods to gamers.

It is no peculiar Seabrook pastime. Take it critically.

“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 lots of one-on-one conversations with the blokes, or we’ll use him in a bunch discuss. He is type 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 sport in NHLcontinues to be underneath contract with Tampa Bay Lightning Till the tip of subsequent season. (Sure, Seabrook has a Lightning jersey together with his identify on it at house; he thought it will be enjoyable to ask for one, and Tampa Bay was joyful to oblige.) Giants basic 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 significant concern in Chicago.

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

“My document is terrible from that, however I realized so much,” Seabrook stated.

“I feel 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 High Prospects sport Wednesday evening in close by Langley, teaching towards Conor Bedard. On Tuesday afternoon, he was on the ice at Langley Occasions Heart, main drills, hitting pucks, speaking to gamers, and even clearing nets afterwards to make room for Zamboni. He appeared like a snug man in retirement. He appeared like a man who was having enjoyable and in a very good place.

However in reality 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 methods to spend it.

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

Seabrook was in tears when he known as Michael Terry, the Blackhawks crew doctor. Three months after a debilitating and deteriorating hip damage 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 dwell like this.'” “

Seabrook underwent an MRI scan. Noticed a again specialist. Noticed a hip specialist. Lastly, he received hip substitute surgical procedure, and it modified his life. Simply 5 weeks after the operation, Seabrook was so happy that he known as his physician and informed 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 reasonable. He cannot do something till his contract expires subsequent 12 months, so within the meantime, he is making an attempt to be taught all the things he can about what he calls the “different facet” of hockey. There’s the developmental work with the Giants, and now the teaching at High Prospects Recreation. 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 basic supervisor Kyle Davidson, assistant GM Norm McIver and hockey guide 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 thrice a month. (Courtesy Vancouver Giants)

Coaching appears to suit naturally. It is exhausting to think about Seabrook grinding it down the lonely path as a Scout. He belongs within the locker room, his large 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 position with the Giants, even when the gamers had 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 educating 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 methods to do it and which particular angles to chop.

However greater than that, be taught to attach together with your gamers on a extra fundamental stage, 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 a long time 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 sport.

Seabrook is not only a identify. It is the identify 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 chunk your head off.”

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

“It isn’t simply somebody telling them these items, it is somebody who has actual expertise,” stated Parnetta. “He is been via it, they usually comprehend it. So if he says one thing, they’re like, ‘Oh, I get it.’ I may inform them the identical factor they usually would not take heed 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 house and information all season. And now he is making use of all the things he is realized — methods to discuss to younger players, methods to attain out to younger players, methods to join with younger players — into the High Prospects Recreation. It is a truthful certain, however for all these gamers making an attempt to compete for a draft spot behind Bedard, the strain is overwhelming.

Seabrook is doing all the things he can to alleviate that strain.

“It is a sport filled with gamers who must 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 best way 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 approach typically.”

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

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

So I gave it—in the future. Why do not we discuss?” Seabrook recalled. “It is like, ‘It is exhausting to speak to you guys. You are busy. You are on the highway. You are on this city or that city. I am considering of calling you, nevertheless it’s a day. Recreation, and I do not wish to disturb you. I examine the schedule and say, ‘Okay, I will name tomorrow.’ However then I overlook and it is too late.”

Seabrook understands that now. desires to speak to Jonathan Toews And Patrick Kane Usually. He desires to see how issues are underneath Luke Richardson. He – like everybody else – desires to know which approach they lean in terms of no-action clauses because the commerce deadline approaches. However he principally stays away. He went to the Blackhawks-Canucks sport on Tuesday at Rogers Enviornment and was planning to meet up with the blokes after the sport, however the crew 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 just a few years too early; The spirit was prepared however the physique was weak, nicely 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 on the lookout for 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 crew he is ever identified. He nonetheless has 17 months to seek out out.

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

Driving a van from Kelowna to Vancouver. He ignores Parneta’s supply to have the crew cowl the fuel. He goes out for beer with the Giants workers. He provides his cellphone 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 ingredient. Seabs simply being Seabs.

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

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

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