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Caps' Brouwer has fond memories of Chicago

by Brian Hedger
CHICAGO -- Troy Brouwer still owns a place in the Wrigleyville neighborhood of Chicago and is looking to sell now that his prime renter -- former Chicago Blackhawks enforcer John Scott -- was dealt to the New York Rangers.

"If you've got anyone (who needs a place), we're still looking to rent it out," quipped Brouwer, who's now a Washington Capital and will play against the Chicago Blackhawks on Sunday night at the United Center (7 p.m., NBCSN) for the first time.

Brouwer was drafted by Chicago in the seventh round of the 2004 NHL Draft (No. 214) and helped the Hawks win the 2010 Stanley Cup. He played last season in Chicago trying to defend the title, but was dealt to the Capitals in the summer for an extra first-round pick in the 2011 Draft.

The memories are nice, but this is no pleasure trip for Brouwer -- who said he's long past the initial disappointment of being traded by the only team he'd played for in the NHL.

"A lot of good memories when I got out on the ice this morning," Brouwer said. "You got that comfort factor because I played so many games here and it was, I guess, the only place I’d called home up until I got traded. It’s a lot of fun to be back, but at the same time my career’s moved on a bit. I got a little different view when I’m going to be on the ice."

The trade that brought him to Washington seems like ancient history by now, but he still remembers the surprise when it was announced.

"I had small ideas that something might be looming but nothing concrete," said Brouwer, who has 18 goals and 13 assists in 71 games and leads Washington with 217 hits. "When I did get traded, obviously it was a surprise. For me, I missed the city more than anything. The people here were phenomenal. The fans here were great to me. So that's what’s tough to deal with the most ... just picking up, me and my wife. We have a home here in Wrigleyville."

One that Scott rented from him up until the deal that took him to New York hours before the trade deadline expired. As for Brouwer, he and his wife had a whole new stable of teammates and families within the Capitals organization to meet -- not to mention the joy of finding a new home in the Washington D.C. area.

"Trying to find a new place to live, get comfortable, meet new people, meet the new teammates ... that’s the biggest problem with having to move your whole life," said Brouwer, who had a chance to catch some dinner on Saturday night with former teammates Patrick Sharp and Brent Seabrook.

As it turned out, the transition to his new team and new locker room was pretty smooth.

"It's been great," Brouwer said. "When I got to the team, the guys where very receptive. A little bit of an up-and-down season, but the girls have been great to my wife. The guys have been really receptive to me when I came into the dressing room, because sometimes it's not always easy to welcome a new player -- especially when the guys here had such a tight knit thing going."

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