By Derick Brassard's account, the last time the Rangers center represented his country in international competition was 11 years ago, and the the only time he can remember having won a championship of any kind was as a youth midget hockey player back in his hometown of Hull, Quebec, Canada.
However after helping Canada win the gold medal last month at the 2016 World Championships Brassard can now update his memory bank in both categories.
"It was a great experience, a chance to play with and learn from some great hockey players, and to win it all was a really good feeling," Brassard told BlueshirtsUnited.com. "Every player there would rather have been still in the playoffs because that's what we do, that's our league, the Stanley Cup is our main goal; but this tournament was a good way to end my season on a good note."
After leading the Rangers this past season with a career-high 27 goals and finishing second on the club with 58 points, Brassard was selected to play for Team Canada at the World Championships when the Blueshirts were eliminated from the Stanley Cup playoffs. Brassard proceeded to lead Canada with 11 points (5-6-11) in the tournament, notching at least one point in eight of the ten games his team played.
"To win something important and learn from other great players made for a valuable experience for me," explained Brassard. "When you sign up for this tournament and you're with all these superstar players you have to check your ego at the door and accept whatever role they give you. That was the beauty of our team because everyone accepted their roles. It was fun that I got to play an important part on the team and was able to help us win just by playing my game."
Although he did not record a point in Canada's 2-0 win over Finland in the gold medal game, Brassard played a big part in making sure his team even got the opportunity to play for gold. Canada trailed the United States 3-2 late in the second period of the semifinals when Brassard scored a clutch power play goal to tie things up heading into the third period. Canada eventually rallied past Team USA 4-3 and won gold the next day.
"The atmosphere in the building was electric, and the U.S. had a real young hard-working team and they outplayed us there for a stretch in the second period, scored three straight goals," Brassard explained. "When we got that power play (late in the second) I knew we were ready because we were really well-prepared and our power play had been good in the tournament. I just came down, side of the net, and scored. It was a great feeling, and was happiest for the guys. Then we found a way to win in the third period."
The opportunity to represent his country in such a major tournament, win a gold medal, and also travel to Russia and spend three weeks in that country in something Brassard says he will cherish moving forward.
"The experience was great," said Brassard. "A great group of guys who made it a lot of fun. It was a great experience for me as a person and as a hockey player."
The gold medal is going home to Ottawa with Brassard; and later this month he will add a championship ring to his collection following a team ceremony in Halifax.
"I hope to have the same feeling with the Rangers in the next couple of years."