During the pandemic pause, T.J. Brodie was busy pushing weight. Literally.
By Wes Gilbertson
During the pandemic pause, T.J. Brodie was busy pushing weight.
The Calgary Flames outfitted each of their players with custom Rollerblades — attached to their usual skate-boots — and Brodie upped the degree of difficulty and also maximized his dad-time by including his two-year-old daughter, Severn, in his workouts.
“She’s at the age now where we have a little cart that I’ll push her around in,” the Dresden native said. “So back home, I’d push her around the neighbourhood wearing those.”
Family matters must have also weighed on the 30-year-old defenceman as the NHL and NHLPA finalized plans for this unprecedented summer restart. Brodie’s wife, Amber, has multiple sclerosis, which could put her at increased risk if exposed to COVID-19.
“I definitely thought about it, and that’s one of the reasons why I came back (to Calgary) alone,” Brodie said. “We’re just taking it day-by-day and seeing where everything is at. Hopefully, they’ll come out next week and I at least get to the see them before we go to the bubble, but it’s definitely something that is always in the back of your mind.”
Brodie could have opted out without penalty, but the soon-to-be unrestricted free agent didn’t go that route. Instead, he is back at the Saddledome with his pals, prepping for a play-in series against the Winnipeg Jets.
Was it a difficult decision?
“It’s hard — hockey is my job,” Brodie replied. “It’s one of those things where you want to be as safe as possible. But at the same time, especially with my contract being up, I didn’t know how that would affect me if I didn’t come back.
“But whenever I do see them, I’m going to take that extra precaution to make sure it’s safe for them.”
Brodie is one of those guys who could be key to prolonging the Flames’ stay in the hub-city bubble in Edmonton.
He’ll be working with captain Mark Giordano on Calgary’s top pairing, tasked with trying to shut down the Jets’ terrific trio of Kyle Connor, Mark Scheifele and Blake Wheeler.
With Travis Hamonic opting out for his own family reasons, No. 7 will likely be asked to log more time on the penalty-kill.
When asked about Brodie’s importance to the squad, Flames interim coach Geoff Ward was gushing positives.
“You only have to look at when Gio went down, how well he played,” Ward said, referring to a three-week stretch that Calgary’s captain was sidelined by a hamstring injury. “I think he took the ‘D’ core a little bit on his back. He raised his level of play. I thought in the absence of Gio, he really stepped up.
“He’s a guy in our room that says the right things at the right times. He’s a quiet guy, but he has some real, real strong leadership attributes, which we’re happy that he’s starting to exercise those and show those on a more regular basis. And I tell him all the time how important that is to what he brings to the table for us.
“You’re right, a lot of people don’t talk about him, but he’s an extremely important member of our team, not only by what he does on the ice but also what he does with our group as a leader and as a guy who develops our culture and points guys in the right direction of how we want Calgary Flames to be.”
With Brodie’s five-year, US$23.25-million pact about to expire, his agent might want to clip that comment for future negotiations.
His contract is certainly in the back of his mind, but the smooth-skating blue-liner will worry about that later.
“The way I look at it is it’s another chance to do as best as you can out there,” he said. “And hopefully something comes.”