It was a cold night in Chicago last December and an off night for the Blackhawks, all the better for a star defenseman who logs abundant minutes to retire from public life, maybe for a quiet dinner with his girlfriend. But Brent Seabrook
exemplifies why hockey players are the best and then there are the rest. He and a few of his teammates needed no urging, only directions, to attend a memorial benefit for Michael Flisk, a Chicago police officer who was slain earlier that week while he was simply doing his job.
Seabrook’s job does not entail such gestures of decency, and yet he finds it unfathomable that a professional athlete enjoying a privileged existence in a city he loves would even think twice about supporting such a cause.
“I don’t do something like that because I have to do it or because I’m supposed to do it,” said Seabrook. “I do it because I want to do it.”
Little wonder why teammate Patrick Sharp
calls No. 7 “a rock” among the men who comprise these Stanley Cup champions. Seabrook is sturdy, dependable and ever-present during games, in the locker room, on the bus. But, while only 25, Seabrook also grasps the concept of giving back, as evidenced by his Inner-City Education (ICE) charity bowling tournament that has grown with every year, as has he.
“We’re blessed because all of our guys are terrific,” said Pete Hassen, Blackhawks senior director of market development and community affairs. “But Brent is right at the top of the list when it comes to having a sense of community. He always finds a way to do what’s right.”
Evidently Seabrook considers being a solid citizen one of his routines — and, oh, does he have plenty of them. His customary partner on the blue line, Duncan Keith
, was a roommate during their rookie season in 2005-06 and describes his pal as a disciple of discipline, unfailingly organized and attentive to all chores, whether it’s paying bills promptly or stacking socks neatly in the drawer according to color. Seabrook might counter with the obvious — how else would one stack socks if not by color? But he’s got no chance in other precincts.
“Superstitious,” said Sharp. “Not a little superstitious either. A lot superstitious. I roomed with him for three road trips, and I had to get out. Brent is one of my best friends. I love him to death. I just can’t live with him.”
Most of his superstitions — Seabrook prefers to refer to them as habits — involve eating and sleeping regimens. But it’s not all calibrated snacking and alarm clocks. Before each game Seabrook focuses by reviewing nine words — words he’ll keep between himself and Blackhawks Mental Skills Coach James Gary, thanks for asking. Then, before each period, he stands by the chute leading to the bench and either taps fellow players with his stick or exchanges fist bumps.
“He’s the last guy on the ice,” noted coach Joel Quenneville, “but definitely not the last guy ready to play. He doesn’t wear a ‘C’ or an ‘A’ on his jersey, but he’s a big part of our leadership group. Brent is not as quiet as you might think. And he is zero maintenance."