Home HockeySt. Louis Blues Despite a short tenure with the Blues, Troy Brouwer will forever be immortalized in St. Louis

Despite a short tenure with the Blues, Troy Brouwer will forever be immortalized in St. Louis

by Jeremy Bowen

The night of April 25, 2016 will forever go down as a “where were you” moment for St. Louis Blues fans everywhere. That night of course was when Troy Brouwer scored the game winning goal in the third period of Game 7 in the opening round of the 2016 NHL Playoffs against the rival Chicago Blackhawks in an intense 3-2 victory. Up until the Blues finally won their first Stanley Cup in franchise history in 2019 and all the unforgettable moments along that journey, Brouwer’s goal was widely regarded by fans as the biggest goal in Blues franchise history. Brouwer’s goal spurred the Blues on a run that would see them defeat the Dallas Stars in seven games in the second round before being ousted in six games in the Western Conference Final by the San Jose Sharks. That season was Brouwer’s only full season with the Blues, as he was traded to the team the summer before and then in the summer of 2016 signed with the Calgary Flames.

It is truly a rare instance when a player becomes a fan favorite when they play less than 120 total games with a franchise but that is exactly what Troy Brouwer was able to do in his short tenure in St. Louis. Brouwer was part of a trade package including AHL goaltender Pheonix Copley and a third-round pick that was sent to the Blues in the summer of 2015 in exchange for then fan favorite T.J. Oshie. Oshie was beloved by the St. Louis crowd, but had failed to produce in the playoffs for several seasons which led to his departure as part of a core roster shakeup. Brouwer had big expectations coming into that 2015-16 season, as he had past playoff success, won a Stanley Cup, and was coming off two consecutive 40-point seasons.

Brouwer would hit the ground running with the Blues as he found early season success, recording six points (2 G, 4 A) in the first five games of the season as the Blues started 4-1-0. As the season progressed, Brouwer became crucial to the Blues power play unit, as he finished the season third on team with seven power play goals and added an additional three assists with the man advantage. Brouwer also seemed to have the “clutch factor” as he netted four game winning goals during the 2015-16 season, which included scoring the only goal in a February road game in Nashville with just over a minute left. Brouwer’s mark of four game winners was tied for third best on the team with Kyle Brodziak.

Brouwer would finish the regular season with 39 points total (18 G, 21 A) which was the fifth best point total by a Blues forward. Heading into the playoffs, the Blues had clinched the two seed in the Central which meant a first-round matchup against the three seed and rival Chicago Blackhawks was looming. Brouwer had previously played with these Blackhawks and was a part of their team in 2009-10 that took home the Stanley Cup where Brouwer recorded eight points in 19 playoff games. But despite his vested playoff experience, Brouwer struggled offensively out of the gate as he failed to record a point in the first five games in the series. Despite his struggles, the Blues remained ahead in the series 3-2. Brouwer would finally make his mark on the series in Game 6, as he recorded the primary assist on Alex Pietrangelo’s goal in the first period to make it 2-1. The Blues built a 3-1 lead after one but surrendered five unanswered goals over the final two periods and lost 6-3, which meant we were headed for Game 7.

Brouwer was touted as having plenty of Game 7 experience, as each of the prior six playoff series he played in before 2016 had all went to Game 7’s. Early into that Game 7, the Blues were in great shape. They had scored one minute in on a Jori Lehtera deflection and then doubled their lead on a booming slapper by rookie Colton Parayko with just over six minutes to play in the first. But Marian Hossa would put the Blackhawks on the board late in the first as he whisked one passed Brian Elliott with 1:30 remaining in the first. Then early in the second, Chicago would strike again to tie the game as an Andrew Shaw pass deflected off Jay Bouwmeester’s knee and into the net to even things at two.

From that moment on, neither team would give an inch. Superstars Vladimir Tarasenko and Patrick Kane exchanged grade A chances but neither team had capitalized. We headed to the third and final period deadlocked at two. As we reached the midpoint of the decisive third period, neither team was able to pull ahead. But with 11 and a half minutes remaining, Troy Brouwer would surmount himself into one of the most iconic moments in Blues franchise history.

Robby Fabbri forced Blackhawks defenseman Erik Gustafsson to turn the puck over in the neutral zone near the Chicago zone. Alex Pietrangelo then chipped the puck to the sidewall inside the Hawks zone where Paul Stastny controlled the puck and made a nifty separation move to get away from Gustafsson. Stastny then found Robby Fabbri in front of the net with a pass, who shoveled the puck over to Troy Brouwer alone in front of the net. Brouwer then took not one, not two, but three different tries before being able to shoot the puck in the back of the net past Corey Crawford to give the Blues a 3-2 lead that they would go on to carry to victory to dethrone the defending Stanley Cup Champions.

Despite scoring the Game 7 winner, Troy Brouwer was not done. That Fabbri-Stastny-Brouwer line would become an incredibly important second line for the Blues in the second round. The Blues were matched up against the Dallas Stars in that second round, who were the best team in the Western Conference during the regular season. The Blues fell 2-1 in Game 1, but that line would get to work early in Game 2. Brouwer recorded a primary assist and later a power play goal in the first period  of Game 2 where the Blues would go on to win 4-3 in overtime. That game was only the beginning, as Brouwer would record a secondary assist in the first period of Game 3 on an Alexander Steen goal to tie the game at one.  Then early in the second, Brouwer made a great stickhandle move to get past Stars defender Kris Russell and buried the puck over the shoulder of Antti Niemi. The Blues went on to win Game 3 by a whopping score of 6-1.

The series was later tied up at two, and the Blues were headed back to Dallas for a Game 5. Troy Brouwer would strike again, this time scoring a goal to put the Blues up 3-1 with 2:18 remaining in the second period. The Blues would go on to win the game 4-1 but could not close out the series at home as they lost 3-2 in Game 6. This meant the Blues were headed for another Game 7 and Troy Brouwer was headed to his eighth consecutive playoff series ending in a Game 7. As for Brouwer and his linemates, they saved their best performance for last again.

Four and a half minutes into Game 7, Alex Goligoski of the Stars took a hooking penalty which put the Blues on the power play. Robby Fabbri would then score on the power play to open the scoring and guess who recorded the primary assist on the play? That would be Troy Brouwer. Then with just under two minutes to go in the first, Brouwer would receive a pass from Robby Fabbri, Brouwer then dished the puck to Pail Stastny who was near the goal line by the net and Stastny would bury a tough angled shot past Kari Lehtonen to give the Blues a 2-0 lead. The Blues had later cruised to a 4-0 lead in the second period, and that second line would strike for a third time. Stastny entered the zone and dropped the puck to Fabbri, who then made an incredible backdoor feed to Brouwer who buried the puck to increase the lead to 5-0. The Blues went on to win the game 6-1 and were on their way to the Western Conference Final.

Brouwer was not able to put himself on the scoresheet throughout the first three games of the WCF and with the Blues down 2-1 in the series, they were in need of a big performance. Brouwer would deliver just that, as he scored on a power play goal just a little over six minutes into Game 4. Then with the Blues up 4-1 in the third, Brouwer would score once more on the power play on a deflection to put the Blues up 5-1 and seemingly lock up a victory which they did later get by the score of 6-3. Then in Game 5, Brouwer would score a highlight reel goal as he batted a puck out of midair to beat Martin Jones to put the Blues up 2-1. However, the Blues would lose that Game 5 and then Game 6, ending their season just two wins short from a Stanley Cup Final appearance.

The summer following the Blues’ run to the Western Conference Final embarked on a new chapter for the team. They lost captain David Backes to the Boston Bruins in free agency and Alex Pietrangelo was named the team’s new captain. Brouwer had become a free agent as well and decided to sign with the Calgary Flames on a four year/$18M deal. But things would not work out for Brouwer in Calgary, as he spent two seasons with the team and only recorded 47 points (19 G, 28 A) in 150 games before having the final two years of his contract bought out in August of 2018. Brouwer was then signed by the Florida Panthers, where he salvaged the 2018-19 season with 12 goals and nine assists in 75 games. But heading into the 2019-20 season, Florida did not renew Brouwer’s contract with the team. He had just turned 34 and the season was getting set to begin, and no teams had reached out for Brouwer’s services. It was seeming like his time in the NHL was coming to an end.

But one month into the 2019-20 season, the Blues’ forward group was horrendously riddled with injuries with guys like Alexander Steen, Vladimir Tarasenko, and Oskar Sundqvist all out for extended periods of time. This led the Blues to turn to a familiar face. They reached out to Troy Brouwer and Jamie McGinn, and signed both guys to a player tryout, which contract wise lasts for 10 days. After the conclusion of the PTO’s, McGinn was released and Brouwer was signed. Following his signing, Brouwer would appear in nine straight games for the Blues and even scored a goal in a December 10th loss to the Buffalo Sabres. But after Blues forwards returned from injuries, Brouwer’s playing time severely decreased, and only played in four additional games since December 18th.

With Vladimir Tarasenko’s long-awaited return on the horizon, the Blues placed Brouwer on waivers yesterday which he cleared, meaning the Blues can send him to the AHL. But it is doubtful that a player like Brouwer will want to finish out the season in the minors, which would mean the Blues would likely subject him to unconditional waivers, making Brouwer a free agent to where he will likely announce his retirement as it appears his days in the NHL are over. But despite only playing in 115 total games for the Blues over the span of a season and a half, St. Louis is always going to be grateful for Troy Brouwer. His goal in Game 7 against the Blackhawks helped exercise playoff demons against a team the Blues had struggled against recently come playoff time. Then Brouwer along with linemates Robby Fabbri and Paul Stastny nearly single handedly carried the Blues past the Dallas Stars to the Western Conference Final for the first time in nearly two decades. Nonetheless, Brouwer’s Game 7 goal will forever immortalize himself in St. Louis sports history and he will always be a St. Louis sports legend for it. Thanks #36.

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