After Years at B.C., Brown Ready for First Crack at the NHL Levelby Matt Calamia @MattCalamia / NYRangers.com
Greg Brown finds the humor in the fact that this fall both of his children will be at Boston College, just as he's leaving the school after 14 years to join David Quinn's staff as an assistant coach with the New York Rangers.
But, as Brown said, opportunities like these don't come around often. The chance to apply his trade at the highest level of the sport was something he knew he couldn't not let slip away.
"My initial reaction when David asked me was complete excitement for the opportunity," Brown told NYRangers.com on Tuesday. "The opportunity was just too great to pass up. I'm really looking forward to getting started."
Brown, who primarily ran the defense at the school, has played a hand in the development of many NHLers during his time at Boston College, including Brian Dumoulin, Noah Hanifin, Mike Matheson, Ian McCoshen, and Steven Santini.
In addition to his work on the blueline, Brown also played a big role in special teams and skills building, and worked with the likes of Johnny Gaudreau and Cam Atkinson, as well as Chris Kreider and Kevin Hayes.
Kreider, who spent three years with Brown at B.C. under head coach Jerry York that included a pair of national championships in 2010 and 2012, attributed Brown, who coached defensemen Brady Skjei and Ryan Lindgren at several World Junior Championship tournaments, with growing the skills side of his game.
The forward stated he'd get to practice early with Brown on various drills, gaining skills he readily uses in the NHL.
"I'm incredibly excited," Kreider said of Brown joining the staff. "I had a good rapport and relationship with him at B.C. I can attribute my development … to working with him [and the coaching staff]. He's such an unbelievable coach when it comes to skill development and the power play. His track record molding defensemen that come through B.C. speaks for itself."
There's certainly a familiarity between Kreider and Brown, as there is with Brown and Quinn, who were teammates back at the 1986 World Junior Championship before the two were on opposite sides of the benches for some big games in Boston.
"I had a great relationship with him during our playing days," Brown said of Quinn, "and getting to see his coaching style and how well everything ran over at B.U. when he was there showed his confidence and expertise in coaching. To join someone I was so familiar with personally and so impressed with professionally was an opportunity I didn't want to pass up."
That feeling is certainly mutual from Quinn.
"I have a lot of respect for his insight and knowledge," Quinn said of Brown. "I always thought it would be a great fit for the NHL."
Rangers legend and current hockey operations advisor Brian Leetch played with Brown at Boston College, as well as at various international events with Team USA, including the 1988 Winter Olympics. He said one of Brown's best attributes is his ability to communicate with his players in one-on-one settings.
But what also stands out to the Hall of Famer is that Brown doesn't shy away from reaching out to others to "gain a different perspective."
"He talks to other coaches, other players about what they think in different situations," Leetch said. "He's always searching for how to reach a player in a different way. I'd skate at B.C. and he'd ask to sit down and go over things. I didn't know the players like he did, but he just wanted to see what I saw in the NHL game. He's big on X's and O's and he always wants to improve and put his team in the best situation it can be in."
Brown, who had a 13-year professional playing career that included 94 NHL games, said nothing can replace his time coaching at his alma mater, but it's time for a new challenge.
"I've been at B.C. for 14 years and I loved every minute of it," Brown said, "but to have the opportunity to try [coaching] at a higher level of hockey is very exciting."