DETROIT – Patrick Brown comes from a family with quite a history in sports.
His father, Doug, played in more than 800 NHL games and won the Stanley Cup with the Red Wings in 1997 and ’98. His uncle, Greg, his uncle, Greg, played 11 pro seasons, including four in the NHL, and his grandfather, Wellington Mara, was co-owner of the New York Giants from 1959-2005.
While the Boston College sophomore forward has been following in his father’s footsteps — Doug, too, played at BC — he certainly hasn’t been riding any coattails to get where he is today, competing in the Great Lakes Invitational at Joe Louis Arena with the current leaders of the Hockey East Association.
“It’s pretty special,” Brown said, of having the opportunity to play at The Joe, where his father spent seven seasons with the Wings. “As a kid I always dreamed of playing on this rink. I got to skate here before the Wings’ practices when I was little with the two Chelios boys who are on Michigan State, but to play a real game is something special.”
Before heading to Boston, Brown served as a team co-captain at Bloomfield Hills Cranbrook-Kingswood High School and helped guide the Cranes to back-to-back state championships in 2009 and 2010.
The winger was widely acknowledged as one of the state’s best prep players, and the accolades he received during that time prove it. He earned league co-most valuable player honors after amassing a conference-best 20 points, was awarded all-state first-team twice, was honorable mention all-state as a sophomore, and as a senior he was named to the state’s Dream Team.
Despite making official visits to a few universities around the country, Brown knew that BC – the alma mater of both his parents – was the right place for him.
Currently enrolled in the school’s arts and sciences program, Brown earned Hockey East all-academic team honors during his first season with the Eagles. He played in 29 games as a freshman, picked up an assist and finished the season with a plus-1 rating.
BC currently leads the Hockey East with a 9-4-0 record – 12-6-0 overall, and in its only previous contest against a GLI opponent this season, the Eagles defeated Michigan State, 5-2, in October.
The game against MSU not only marked Brown’s first collegiate goal, but it also featured point-performances from two other former Wings’ progenies — Trevor Nill (son of assistant GM Jim Nill) scored and Jake Chelios (son of Chris Chelios) registered an assist.
“It’s fun. I love playing against them,” Brown said, about competing against the Chelios brothers. “Go hard the whole game but, you know, try to give them a little extra bump when I see them.”
Brown’s uncle Greg, hailed as one of the best defensemen in BC history, is an Eagles’ assistant coach, who played four NHL seasons before moving to Europe where he played another seven seasons. Playing under his uncle has been a bonus for Brown, but the family bond doesn’t change the professional relationship they have as player and coach.
“He’s a really good coach, a really smart guy,” Brown said, of his uncle. “It’s like playing for any other coach. In the locker room, in the rink, he’s ‘Coach’ and out of the rink he’s Uncle Greg.”
But no coach has been more important to Brown’s development than his father.
“He’s been like my own private trainer my whole life, always giving me advice, sending me texts when I’m at school, what I need to work on,” Brown said, of his dad. “It’s been a huge advantage.”
The father and son had a chance to play hockey together every day over Christmas vacation. And in the summers, Brown, his younger brother and dad form a “Brown line” on a few local Detroit area leagues.
Doug Brown paved the way for his son at BC as a forward on the teams that won the 1983 Beanpot championship, advanced to the NCAA’s Frozen Four in 1985 and won the Hockey East championship in 1985 and ’86. A two-time Hockey East and All-America selection, he tallied 162 points in his college career.
Just a boy at the time that his dad helped the Wings win consecutive Stanley Cup titles, Patrick Brown remembers the post-game celebration at JLA in ’97.
“After they won the Cup here, he took me and my sister around on his shoulders on the ice after the game,” Patrick Brown said. “It was absolutely unbelievable.”
Doug Brown’s career ended following the 2000-01 season. He played in 854 games with New Jersey, Pittsburgh and Detroit, while amassing 160 goals and 214 assists.
“It definitely pushes me,” said Patrick Brown, of growing up in his father’s shadow. “I know I’ve got some big shoes to fill.”
But with four siblings, family and friends in the area, he’ll also have a lot of support in the JLA stands when the Eagles faces off against Michigan in the second game of Thursday’s opening round of the GLI.
“We’ll see who my true friends are,” Brown joked. “I’ll get a lot of family members out here so that’ll be nice.”