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Blackhawks' Seabrook, the 'other guy,' now an All-Star

by Brian Hedger / Chicago Blackhawks
(Bill Smith / Chicago Blackhawks)

CHICAGO -- He's seen as the "other guy" in the top defense pairing for the Chicago Blackhawks, but Brent Seabrook means a lot more than that to his teammates.

If they need an emotional lift, he'll provide it. If they need a huge goal, his slap shot is often a reason they get it. If they need a big brother, on the ice or off, he's never too far away.

"He's been here through thick and thin," said center Andrew Shaw, 23, who's playing his fourth season with Seabrook. "He's seen a lot, he's done a lot, and he's just a great leader. He says what needs to be said and then he goes out there and does it."

Seabrook has a career full of accomplishments to back that up. The 29-year-old won a gold medal with Canada in the 2010 Vancouver Olympics. He hoisted the Stanley Cup with the Blackhawks in 2010 and 2013, playing a big role in each championship. He's steadily climbing Chicago's all-time statistical categories in his 10th season for the team that selected him with the 14th pick in the 2003 NHL Draft.

One of the only things missing is an appearance in the NHL All-Star Game, which he'll add later this month. Seabrook, along with four other Blackhawks, was one of the first six players chosen to be all-stars in the 2015 NHL All-Star Fan Vote presented by SiriusXM.

"It's going to be my first one, so I'm really looking forward to it," said Seabrook, who has seven goals and 15 assists in 44 games this season. "I've always said I wanted to do one and it would be nice to get an opportunity, but with the amount of talent and the amount of good players we have on this team, it's tough to get into it."

Seabrook got 1,016,992 votes to finish second among defensemen. That trailed only teammate Duncan Keith, the two-time winner of the Norris Trophy who, by default, makes Seabrook the other guy whenever they go over the boards for another shift.

"He's probably deserved it before this, so it's nice for him to get the opportunity," said Keith, who experienced most of those career milestones alongside Seabrook. "He's been a big part of my success and it's nice to see him get that credit finally."

After breaking into the NHL together in 2005-06, they've become more than just a great defense pairing. They've become close friends. They come to the rink together, with Seabrook driving, and their lockers are next to each other when they arrive.

It's something that has sprouted a number of jokes among their peers.

"Everybody knows what [Seabrook] brings on the ice, but without him, I don't think [Keith] would be at practice half the time, or he'd be late to team meals and everything," left wing Patrick Sharp said, smirking. "He's like a chaperone for Duncan Keith. He's like the big brother to a lot of guys in the room and everybody loves him."

That includes Shaw, whose penchant for talking runs diametrically opposite to Seabrook's quest for silence.

"He just likes … quiet," Shaw said, laughing. "He always tells me to shut up, so I'm used to it. He's probably got the best one-liners for everything though. He's got really good one-liners."

Seabrook has routines as well. He's one of those creatures of habit who, according to the Blackhawks, must do things in certain ways at certain times every day.

"I'm sure he doesn't like to talk about it, but we don't have enough time to talk about the superstitions he has," Sharp said. "I say that he has three days that he lives in his life. One's a game day, one's a practice day and one's an off day. He does the same thing each day, pretty much every hour. That's [Seabrook] for you."

His pregame process has become a thing of legend. Seabrook doesn't like to talk about it, but his teammates don't mind. Several know it so well, they recite the major parts on cue.

It starts as soon as Seabrook enters the locker room, when he stares at the dry-erase board. He'll check the time, use the restroom and watch TV in the players lounge for exactly three minutes. He retapes exactly two sticks. Eventually, he'll get himself pumped up sitting in front of his locker stall precisely five minutes before the start of every game or period.

The end includes him yelling out the same, exact words based on jersey color ("Here we go, red!"), before tapping the defenseman on the shin pads. Finally, he makes sure to be the last one out for warm-ups and period starts.

"He's got a lot of routines and a lot of things he does," Keith said, chuckling. "I used to give him the gears about that the first few years, but as he's gotten older I've just kind of let him be and let him do his thing."

It's the kind of respect that's only earned the way Seabrook has done it the past decade.

"I've tried to be vocal in the dressing room," he said. "Everybody has their roles. Everybody does their thing. It's just something I like to do. It gets me into the game. It gets me going. It's tough to do all the time, but it's something I like to do."

Author: Brian Hedger | NHL.com Correspondent

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