Brodie over the moon after getting Team Canada invite from Steve Yzerman
Entire hockey world has taken notice of emerging Flames blueliner
Like many kids in Chatham, Ont., T.J. Brodie grew up cheering for the Detroit Red Wings with the Joe Louis Arena just 80 kilometres down the road in the Motor City.
Geography had a lot to do with his team of choice. So too did the fact the Wings actually won (unlike a team we all know in Southern Ontario.)
So imagine Brodie’s delight Saturday when Steve Yzerman, of all people, called with an invitation to represent Canada at the 2013 IIHF World Hockey Championships in Stockholm and Helsinki.
“It’s sort of weird watching him growing up and being so close to Detroit and stuff,” the 21-year-old defenceman said Sunday morning after packing up his belongings on the last day in the 2013 campaign for the Calgary Flames. “To talk to him on the phone is sort of a weird feeling, I guess.
“Watching your idol and getting to talk to him — it’s a cool experience.”
Speaking of cool experiences, Brodie will pull on a Team Canada jersey for the first time Saturday in what amounts to the next class in a steep season of learning for the top young defenceman in the Flames organization.
His only brush with Hockey Canada came in 2010 at the summer world junior evaluation camp.
Rest assured, the hockey world has taken notice of the emergence of Brodie — a pending restricted free agent — on the Calgary blueline.
“It’s exciting to get the opportunity — to get asked to go over,” he said. “I’m really looking forward to it. It’s going to be a fun time, and a good experience.”
In 47 games this season, Brodie collected two goals and 12 assists for 14 points and a rating of minus-9.
In a breakout campaign, he logged an average of 20:13 a night.
“The sky is the limit for him,” said assistant captain Mark Giordano. “I think he can be a top-two defenceman in the NHL. He moves the puck well. He skates well. For most of the last month, two months, he’s pretty much been playing the most minutes on the back end for us.
“I love the way he plays. I can’t say enough good things about him.”
Neither can head coach Bob Hartley, who calls the emergence of Brodie the most pleasant surprise of the season.
Clearly, the Flames are thrilled to watch the rising star on the blueline test his skills against some of the top forwards on the planet.
Golf, for Brodie, can wait.
“This is unbelievable news,” Hartley said. “He’s going to learn a lot. It’s going to be a great learning experience.
“Plus T.J. Brodie with many other great skaters, we’re going to see once again the progression that he has shown. I think he’s going to come back with another experience under his belt — even more mature, more experienced.”
That experience is vital, with Brodie in contention to play on the top pairing next season in Calgary.
“I think we all saw last year a little bit of Brodes,” said defenceman Chris Butler. “And then what he did the second half of the year, the way he skates, the way he moves, the confidence he had with the puck, his decision-making — you can’t teach the way he skates. It’s such an advantage to have him on the back end. The amount of minutes he can log . . .
“I was very impressed. I didn’t realize he was that good.”
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