A hockey dad's job is never done

RANDY SPORTAK, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 7:33 PM ET

VANCOUVER — Never has Troy Brouwer been happier to receive a text message from his father critiquing his play.

Even if it wasn’t a glowing review.

Brouwer may have been disappointed like his teammates amidst the fallout of the Chicago Blackhawks’ series-opening loss to the Vancouver Canucks Saturday night, but he received a reminder of what’s really important from his parents the next day.

His mother, Kathy, sent a message from his father, Don, who’s on the road to recovery from a terrifying health scare.

“My dad’s always got a few pointers and my mom was the messenger,” Brouwer said with a laugh.

And the advice?

“Finish more checks and win my battles in the corners. That’s what he wanted me to do more of after that game,” he said. “No matter what condition he’s in, he’s always going to want what’s best for me.”

As much as the texts were a reminder of the club’s 5-1 defeat — and a hockey dad’s never ending post-game advice — the messages were great news for the Blackhawks forward.

His father had watched the whole game — a major feat one month after being rushed to hospital with a blood clot in his brain. Much treatment has followed.

“That was the first game he was able to stay awake for the whole time,” Brouwer explained. “He still gets tired and wants to sleep, but he watched the whole game.”

The messages arriving the next day were proof of that.

Don Brouwer, a retired electrician, had to like what he saw in Monday’s clash — a 4-2 Blackhawks victory which evened the best-of-seven Western Conference semifinal series at one win apiece heading into Wednesday’s Game 3 in Vancouver.

The changing of venues also means Brouwer, who hails from the Vancouver suburb of North Delta, will have an opportunity to see his father for the first time in a few weeks.

The nightmare began not long after Brouwer scored the winning goal to beat the Calgary Flames in Chicago

April 4. His mother reached him with the news after the afternoon tilt, and Brouwer was in Vancouver that night.

He missed the final four regular-season games, but his dad regained consciousness just before the Blackhawks opened the playoffs.

“The first thing my dad told me was to get back (to the team) because it was the playoffs,” Brouwer recalled.

“I’ve talked to him a few times on the phone and he wants to see me, but he also knows it’s an important time of the year and he wants me to be with my team and do what it takes to win.”

The 24-year-old Brouwer just shook his head with that ‘typical father’ look.

Then again, it’s not like the 6-foot-2, 214-lb. right winger can do much more for his dad, who is now in a rehabilitation unit under great care from the staff and Brouwer’s mom, whose nursing skills include a career delivering babies at the British Columbia Women’s Hospital.

“He’s awake and knows what’s going on. He’s able to hold conversations and everything,” Brouwer said of his father’s progress. “But he doesn’t have enough strength to stand up or walk yet. He can get up with help, but as of right now, still needs to build up strength.”

The long-term prognosis is good.

“He’ll be all right,” Brouwer said. “We’re not quite sure to what extent his recovery will be — time will tell.”

And now the Chicago forward, who collected 22 goals and 40 points in the regular season but has been held without a point so far through the post-season, can get back to performing his duties.

With some extra motivation, too.

“It helps he’s able to watch. He always puts his little tidbits out there,” said Brouwer.

“That actually helps. It’s a bit of a morale booster.”


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