ST. LOUIS -- After getting traded to the St. Louis Blues on July 2, right wing Troy Brouwer wanted to quickly get acclimated with his new teammates and city.
Acquired from the Washington Capitals with goalie prospect Pheonix Copley and a third-round pick in the 2016 NHL Draft for right wing T.J. Oshie, Brouwer also felt it was best to get his family situated, especially because his wife, Carmen, is due to deliver the couple's second child.
"You don't want to waste any time," Brouwer said Sunday. "You're trying to know people's names, trying to find your way around the city. Aside from having a baby here in the next couple days, we wanted to come in a little early but also wanted to come in and make sure you have that familiarity so that when the season does start there's no problems. You're already in the full swing of things, know everybody's names, know your way around town, and are comfortable first and foremost."
Brouwer, who has been skating during informal workouts at the Blues' practice facility, understands who he was traded for and how fans wearing the popular No. 74 Oshie jerseys were disappointed. Brouwer wants to make it clear he's not replacing Oshie and doesn't intend to play like him.
"If I try and play like T.J. Oshie or try and come in and win the fans over with skill or something like that, I'm not going to be as effective of a player," Brouwer said. "I've got to stick to what I know. Something that's kind of stuck to me for a long time is when I was younger, I had a coach that told me, 'Dance with the broad that you brought to the dance,' and that just means be the player that you are. Don't try and be something else. It's a funny little saying, but it's always one that stuck with me."
Brouwer had 21 goals and 22 assists in 82 games last season, and 20 of his 46 goals the past two seasons came on the power play. He can play on any of the top three lines, and his style fits well with what coach Ken Hitchcock has said he wants to see this season from his players, which is for them to be fast and reckless. Brouwer also gives the Blues a leadership presence and becomes their only player under contract who has won the Stanley Cup (with the 2010 Chicago Blackhawks).
"He's a great guy, fits right in. I was really impressed the first day," defenseman Alex Pietrangelo said. "When a guy can walk in and carry on a conversation like he's been here for 10 years, you know he's a good person. [General manager Doug Armstrong] did a great job finding a guy with great character. ... No worries in terms of his personality. He's a heck of a guy to add to this group."
After scoring 20 goals once in parts of five seasons in Chicago, Brouwer had 83 goals and 152 points in 293 games in four seasons with Washington. He said he feels he improved as an offensive player by skating with Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom.
"Whenever you're around real good hockey players like that, stars, you're expected to play to their level and make them better," Brouwer said. "It makes you better as a player. But the one thing I've learned, I've tried being a skilled player and it doesn't work for me. I tried being strictly a physical player [and] it doesn't necessarily work for me as well. That good balance of a well-rounded player is what does it for me. I've got to bring that to this hockey team, and that's how I'll be successful and help this team out the best."
Returning to the Central Division, Brouwer rejoins the rivalry between the Blues and Blackhawks.
"Some people have already told me that they'll support me as a player but maybe not the Blues just because they're on the other side of the rivalry," Brouwer said. "I always remembered playing in Chicago and having to come to St. Louis, how difficult it was playing at Scottrade Center. You knew you were going in and you were going to play a top game. It's going to be fun to be on the other side of that with the Blues fan base behind me and our team cheering us on, and making sure that we're trying to beat the Hawks this year."
Brouwer is in the final season of his contract and has an NHL salary-cap charge of $3.67 million, according to war-on-ice.com. What happens beyond this season is unknown, but for now he is prepared to help the Blues go on an extended run through the Stanley Cup Playoffs. They have been knocked out in the first round three straight years.
"The playoffs are not an easy thing to get through, and I know most people understand that," Brouwer said. "You want to win year in, year out. Sometimes it could be a bad matchup, sometimes you could have injury trouble. There's so many things that go into winning Stanley Cups that aren't just having the best team on the ice.
"They've been able to do a lot of good things here in St. Louis during the regular season. They just have to find their way in the playoffs a little bit, and hopefully I can come in, contribute and help out pushing us to that next level."