Eric Brewer should have no trouble scouting the strengths and weaknesses of his opponent Saturday night when the Tampa Bay Lightning make its only visit of the season to St. Louis.
Brewer was a member of the Blues until being dealt to Tampa Bay in mid-February in exchange for defensive prospect Brock Beukeboom and a third-round draft pick in this past summer’s NHL Entry Draft. Saturday marks the first time Brewer will return to St. Louis to face off against his former club.
Tampa Bay won its third straight game on Wednesday and following a practice Friday morning, flew out to St. Louis, where Brewer is eager to face the team with which he spent six seasons, while also serving as team captain.
“I’m pretty excited for it,” the Bolts defenseman said. “It was a great place to play and my wife and I met a lot of good people over the years there. It should be fun.”
In no way is Brewer bitter about how the situation unfolded some nine months ago.
In fact, the Lightning defenseman said he still keeps in touch with several of his former Blues teammates, as well as a good number of front office personnel and several members of the team’s locker room staff.
“I’m looking forward to having a quick chat with a lot of the guys,” Brewer added. “I played with a lot of them for a long time and we had some really good times there. I have nothing but good things to say about their organization.”
The transition over to a new team wasn’t too bad either.
He acknowledged that as a veteran of 13 NHL seasons, it is often easy to see just how common it is in today’s NHL salary cap era for players to shuffle around the league from team to team. That players rarely stay in one NHL city for long is, as he calls, “just the way this business works.”
On Feb. 6, as the Bolts hosted the Blues in the only matchup of the 2010-11 season, Brewer, standing at six-foot-four inches in height, was perceived as an imposing force at the blue line who often presented a challenge to opposing teams’ forwards. Just two weeks later, he walked into the Lightning locker room as a welcomed addition.
“Just what we needed,” head coach Guy Boucher said at the time of the trade.
Brewer cited his relationship with Blues assistant coach Brad Shaw and the overall direction of the team as what he liked most during his time playing in St. Louis. On Saturday, for the first time in nearly a year, he’ll get to enjoy it once more, but this time wearing the Lightning sweater.
“It’ll be nice,” Brewer added. “It certainly won’t be the same because teams change and they can change very quickly, but there is plenty that I’ll be familiar with.”