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Brendan Lemieux living up to family name in Barrie

by Mike G. Morreale

Brendan Lemieux is a regular chip off the old block.

The son of former NHL player and three-time Stanley Cup champion Claude Lemieux considers himself a playoff performer. In other words, he's a forward who can make the big play and score the big goal when needed.

Sound familiar? It should. Claude ended his career tied for third with Joe Sakic on the all-time NHL list with 19 game-winning goals in the Stanley Cup Playoffs for three different teams.

Brendan certainly opened some eyes with some clutch goals and feistiness in his second full season for the Barrie Colts of the Ontario Hockey League in 2013-14, producing 27 goals, 53 points and 145 penalty minutes in 65 regular season games. He moved up 10 spots to No. 28 on NHL Central Scouting's final ranking of the top North American players eligible for the 2014 NHL Draft at Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia.

Brendan Lemieux is No. 28 on NHL Central Scouting's final ranking of the top North American players eligible for the 2014 NHL Draft. (Photo: Terry Wilson/OHL Images)

The Colts were eliminated in six games by the North Bay Battalion in the Eastern Conference semifinal round on April 13. Lemieux finished with seven goals (three power-play goals), 10 points and 16 penalty minutes in 11 postseason games.

His finest playoff moment probably took place April 4, 2013 when he scored the winning goal 5:26 into overtime in Game 4 of the OHL Eastern Conference final against the Belleville Bulls. Barrie would ultimately win the series in seven games.

"I'm playing my best when I'm playing playoff-style hockey," Lemieux said. "That type of hockey includes making simple and smart plays and scoring a clutch goal every so often. It also means getting under the skin of the opposition, getting them agitated, really working hard and playing good defense."

Sound familiar? It should. Claude Lemieux made a living out of making life miserable for the opposition as public agitator No. 1. He was a player you would much rather have playing for you than against you.

"Brendan is a guy you can put in front of the net because he can agitate and be a pest; I think that's in his DNA," director of NHL Central Scouting Dan Marr said.

Colts defenseman Aaron Ekblad, who is considered by many to be the top defenseman eligible in the 2014 draft, was Lemieux's roommate in Barrie. Ekblad is No. 2 on Central Scouting's final list.

"He's a special player," Ekblad said. "He's skilled, but isn't one of these guys showing skills off too often; he fights for every inch on the ice. He'll go into any situation and work as hard as he possibly can. He's a hard-nosed player.

"His dad taught him everything he knows and he's his biggest mentor. I've even learned quite a few things through his dad because we room together in Barrie."

There's going to come a moment during the 2014 draft when Brendan Lemieux's name will be announced. To fans of the Philadelphia Flyers, the name "Lemieux" will most certainly conjure up some bad memories in the City of Brotherly Love.


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After all, the family patriarch had 12 goals, including three game-winners, and 36 points in 53 regular-season games against the Flyers, and eight goals (one game-winner) and 13 points in 24 playoff games.

So, unless the Flyers are the team announcing Lemieux as their draft pick, one would expect the locals to cringe whenever his name is announced.

"My mom loves to chat about which teams might draft me; any NHL team would be awesome," Lemieux said. "I still remember those days in Philadelphia when I'd be sitting with mom and we'd hear fans call my dad all different names. You need to have a tough skin, but I enjoyed it to be honest.

"The thing is, just to have the opportunity to be drafted into the NHL is a dream come true. It's what I want to do with the rest of my life, so whatever it takes to get there and get to that moment would be incredible."

Lemieux wears jersey number 21 in honor of his father, who wore the number playing junior hockey in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League in the mid-1980s. He considers his dad his greatest role model and biggest hockey influence.

"He didn't want to drive a truck, so he really worked his butt off to get to where he was," Lemieux said. "He came to the rink every day, worked hard. It was great being with him and going into NHL dressing rooms and being around the players. The NHL lifestyle is fantastic. I think the No. 1 thing for me is staying humble and just keep working. If you want to live this glorious life that hockey players do get, you really have to work for it."

Work ethic is something Claude Lemieux stressed to his son early in life.

"My dad was a second-round pick; had really good junior numbers but was pretty much a nobody from a small town [Buckingham, Quebec], but the first in a town of 5,000 to make it out of there. He did it because of his work ethic," Brendan said.

Claude Lemieux is a four-time Stanley Cup champion, and he won the Conn Smythe Trophy as the playoff MVP after helping lead the New Jersey Devils to their first championship in 1995.

"What I am most proud of was seeing him make his comeback in San Jose [in 2008-09]," Brendan said. "I remember everyone in San Jose standing up and cheering for my dad, a 43-year-old playing on the fourth line. I think my mom cried."

Lemieux was selected in the fourth round (No. 69) by the Colts in the 2012 OHL priority draft but many expect him to go earlier at the NHL Draft on June 27-28.

"He has the same skating stride as his father, down low protecting the puck," Marr said. "He's also got a great one-timer and can finish. He's one of these guys who has an equal number of goals and assists, and he does bring an important ingredient to a hockey team."


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