This is what I expected last year. After a fantastic season with the Anaheim Ducks, Sheldon Brookbank came the Blackhawks to supply some much needed nastiness. It may have taken roughly 30 games with the team, but over the past few games, no player has been as gritty as Brookbank. It began against the Minnesota Wild, where Brookbank got involved with Nate Prosser, leading to a game misconduct penalty. Brookbank showed his toughness by standing up for teammate Brandon Saad, who was being antagonized by Prosser for his actions with Wild net-minder Niklas Backstrom. In a game that wasn’t even close, it was great to see Brookbank defend his colleague on the ice.
He came through with another grinder performance this week in the contest against the Calgary Flames. There were multiple instances where Brookbank joined post-whistle scrums and made his presence felt with his extracurricular activities. Brookbank seems to be enjoying his role as agitator for the ‘Hawks and it is something they could use to help keep some of their finesse players clean during both tight games, and blowouts that can turn ugly. I am looking forward to seeing Brookbank cement himself as the team’s true tough guy, because though other players have filled this role temporarily, I believe he has the best chance to endure this position for the rest of the season.
An honorable mention goes to Andrew Shaw, who has consistently brought his intense brand of hockey to the ‘Hawks this season. Shaw loves hitting and loves getting his opponents head. He also has the skills to score, create, and contribute on the offensive end, making him a complete player who time and time again has contributed for this ‘Hawks squad. His progression and the developed play of Brookbank can give the Blackhawks a fierce duo that can rival most of the NHL’s other “bash brothers”
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