When the Blackhawks head to training camp this September, head coach Joel Quenneville will find a couple more familiar faces in the room. A reunion is in order with two of his former players who signed on with Chicago Friday afternoon: Andrew Brunette and Jamal Mayers.
“It’s an easier transition, having played for him before and enjoyed the time I played with him,” said winger Brunette, who served under Quenneville in Colorado from 2005-2008. “To have a chance to do it again, I’m pretty lucky and I’m looking for to playing for him again in a great city.”
“Obviously I’m very excited to be back with Joel having played with him when I started my career,” said Mayers, who spent 1998-2004 with Coach Q in St. Louis. “He’s very familiar with what I bring to the table and certainly I know what I’m expected to bring and obviously also what kind of system they play. I’m excited to do that and be reunited with the coaching staff I’m familiar with.”
Even without the draw of a favorite former coach, there was more than enough appeal in playing for the Blackhawks to make Chicago an appealing destination for both players.
“Chicago was at the top of my list as a place… if they were interested. To have an opportunity to win a Stanley Cup at my age is very intriguing,” said Brunette. “It didn’t take too much probing on my side to know that I wanted to play here. I think they probably have the best core players in the league, and at this stage in my career I just want a chance to win a championship, and this is as good as any club out there.”
Mayers, who led San Jose with 124 penalty minutes and can play all three forward positions, and Brunette, a strong, durable winger who ranked third on Minnesota with 46 points, will be expected to bring grit and veteran experience to the Blackhawks’ lineup, along with fellow new recruits Sean O’Donnell and Steve Montador.
“I think that by now I should certainly know what my role is,” says Mayers, who registered 12 major penalties in 2010-11. “Any time you come to a team that’s a contender, it’s a great fit because I know I’m just going to try to bring energy and kill penalties and do the things that I’ve done for the most part of my career.”
Though both players have battled the Blackhawks throughout their careers, they are excited to meet their new teammates and get the new season underway.
“I think at the end of the day we’re all competitors, and we realize that when you’re teammates that’s all that matters,” Mayers said. “The reality is from training camp on, once you meet your group and you form a bond with each other, that’s all that really matters.”