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Brook seamlessly adopts Canadiens mindset

Defenseman prospect grew up Canucks fan, will work to improve in WHL this season

by Sean Farrell / Correspondent

BROSSARD, Quebec -- As soon as defenseman Josh Brook was selected by the Montreal Canadiens in the second round (No. 56) of the 2017 NHL Draft, the 18-year-old from Roblin, Manitoba, gave up his rooting interest in the Vancouver Canucks.

"I was a big fan of Trevor Linden growing up," Brook said at Canadiens devlopement camp last month. "My dad played with him and he told me great stories about him, so I always thought of him as the kind of guy I liked to watch. I never met him, but that's why I was a Canucks fan, just because he was a player my dad played with. I cheered for the Canucks, but that's done now. I'm a Habs fan."

His father, Dwayne, was a rookie right wing, and Linden's teammate, when Medicine Hat of the Western Hockey League won the Memorial Cup in 1988. Josh's brother, Jakob, 15, was selected in the 2017 WHL Bantam Draft by Prince Albert, another team their father played for during his four WHL seasons.

"All my family is different," Brook said. "They all like different (NHL) teams, but I think everyone cheers for the Canadiens now."

Brook's trip to Montreal for the four-day camp at the Canadiens' suburban practice facility left him praising the team and its fans.

"Well, it's a first-class organization, amazing people in the organization, great facilities, everything has just been awesome," he said. "You see how much they invest in their players and how they want you to get better. And even in these skates, I've learned how intense the fans are. Like, looking how many there are in the stands for development camp games, I love that. That's how committed the fans are, and that's awesome."

A right-handed shot, Brook (6-foot-1, 182 pounds) had 40 points (eight goals, 32 assists) in 69 games in his second full season with Moose Jaw of the WHL.

Canadiens player development coach Francis Bouillon worked with the defensemen prospects at camp, and Brook is one he'll keep tabs on during the season.

"Once a player is drafted, we're here to support him, we're here to give him the tools," Bouillon said. "[Development camp] was like going to school for these young players. I think they learned a lot and now it's up to them if they want to use that information.

"It's great to meet a player and go see him and push him and show him a lot of things, but at the same time, if he doesn't want to do it, it's not my place to take him by the hand and lead him to the NHL. That depends on the player's willpower, and then we'll do everything possible to help him reach his goal."

Brook tried to soak up as much instruction and feedback as he possibly could before heading to Calgary for summer conditioning.

"I got a little more confident in myself offensively, moving the puck and making more plays in the offensive zone," Brook said. "I still feel like my defensive game wasn't very good and I'll definitely be working on that. There were a lot of little things I learned from all the coaches. Whenever we were on the ice for practices they were addressing me with a ton of stuff, talking about what I can work on and what I need to improve on and change in my game, even my posture when I'm skating, when I'm turning, how I hold my stick, and it was awesome.

"I'm very driven to do that to get to the next level.

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