No other team can claim a history as rich and colorful as the Chicago Blackhawks. As storied as the organization has been, its players have proven to be even more memorable and intriguing. Join us now as we take a journey back and visit with some of our heroes of yesterday to find out what they have been doing since leaving the game.
Defenseman - 1979-93
Defenseman Keith Brown was a steady two-way performer for 16 NHL seasons. He was equally proficient at looking after matters in his own zone and contributing on offence.
Born in Corner Brook, Newfoundland, Brown headed across the country to play for the Fort Saskatchewan Traders of the Alberta Junior Hockey League. He then spent three years in the WCJHL with the Portland Winter Hawks and represented Canada at the World Junior Championships in 1979. After registering 96 points in the regular season and 30 assists in 30 playoff games in 1978-79, the young rearguard was chosen seventh overall by the Chicago Blackhawks.
Brown was a solid player in all phases of the game and a die-hard competitor. He reached double figures in goals twice and helped Chicago reach the Stanley Cup finals in 1992 and the semi-finals in 1982, 1983, 1985, and 1989. His tenacious effort on the ice took its toll on Brown's body as he missed considerable time as a result of injuries in seven of his 14 years in the Windy City.
Late in his career Brown was shipped to the expansion Florida Panthers to add stability and defense to the young squad. He was a solid +11 in 51 games the first years, then retired in 1995 after seeing action in only 13 contests.
So where is Keith Brown now?
I work for a company called Equifax in Boca Raton, Fla. I take care of their back-end systems. It requires being able to look at large amounts of data in a really short amount of time and run queries that would normally take a long time very quickly. I went back to school after I was finished playing hockey and did a two-year sabbatical where I studied the word of God and also sold real estate. But I didn't want to stay in real estate. I returned to school and got my bachelors in computer engineering and was working towards a Masters in international business. I still need a few classes and have been a bit too lazy to go back and get them. So I have worked in the computer industry for I guess about 5 years now.
How do you spend your spare time these days?
I have four kids and two of our children are both in college now. Our son plays baseball at Liberty University in Lynchburg and our daughter also goes there. Then we have two little girls here that are handicapped little girls that are pretty full time. The have a disorder called "Lays" Disease, they are born normal and it is something that attacks your brain usually before the age of two. Our little girl, Krissy, is 15 and Casey is 12. Often times [with this disease] they don't live very long; they only live to be about six, but they've outlived all of that. They are great little girls and I have special wife who takes care of them.
I have been involved in our church down here. I have an opportunity to teach some Bible studies now and most of my spare time is pretty much spent doing that -- spreading God's word with youth groups and also at church once in a while.
Any reflections on your days in a Blackhawks' sweater?
It sure was an enjoyable time. I think the thing I miss the most is the camaraderie you have. I think you hear that mostly when you speak with athletes after there playing days are over. We had a great core group of guys there who were around for a number of years. Doug Wilson, Denis Savard, Troy Murray, just a lot of great guys.
We had pretty solid teams there in the '80s. We were always very competitive, but the only thing is we would always come up against Edmonton and I still think they were the best team ever assembled. You look at their teams back then and they might have had 6 or 7 of the best 20 players in the world. Arguably the two best centers in the game, at least I think they were at that time. We had some good opportunities though. Playing in Chicago Stadium I think was second to none. There was no building like it, the excitement that took place there. Chicago was a great sports town and it still is. I know my wife has her White Sox jersey on all of the time.
Any particular stories or incidents that stand out in your memory?
We played Philadelphia on a Friday night and I think they beat us 6-2. I think Curt Fraser scored a goal and I think I scored a goal, and I didn't score very often. But I remember that game like it was yesterday. After the morning skate I had walked out with my defense partner, who was Behn Wilson, and Pelle Lindberg was walking out. They had talked because Behn had played there for five years and Pelle got into his turbo-charged Porsche and peeled off out of the parking lot. They beat us 6-2 that night and Pelle died about a day and a half later. It really spoke to me ... the fragility of life.
If you could walk into a professional hockey team's locker room, what would you tell the players in the game today?
I think when you are in the moment and you are young you think all of this is going to last forever. And I look back, and boy, ten or eleven years ago now for me, and that time just comes and goes so quickly. You should just try to enjoy every moment. You go through tough times -- and hopefully you are going to have a lot of good times too -- but it really is a special way to be able to make a living. As I reflect back, I think sometimes you take it for granted, maybe I did. But just how fortunate I was to be able to play for Chicago, such a great organization, with the Wirtz family and Bob Pulford and all of the different coaches.