Two-time Sharks player Curtis Brown has returned to the Bay Area, but this time it’s not to play hockey. Instead, Brown will join the Sharks Ice staff and work with their kids programs.
For Brown, a full-time profession now means the hockey career is officially complete.
“I think only certain people have an official retirement and I’m not one of those guys in that category,” Brown joked. “I don’t know if I’ll ever officially retire because I don’t think that’s going to be newsworthy.”
Brown acknowledges he could have the itch when training camp rolls around, but that it would only be an itch.
“I’m not going to be playing next season and I think as a player, you’re always going to have the desire to go and play or think you can help long after you should have made that decision,” Brown said. “I’m sure there will be nights watching the Sharks that I really do miss it, but I’m sure after I watch the guys doing conditioning tests and hard practices that I’ll be happy with my decision. When they get to go out and play in the games, and I miss camaraderie, I’ll probably miss those aspects.”
Instead of focusing on not being in the NHL anymore, Brown is focusing on the positive of having hockey in his life for so long.
“I’m very thankful for the career I had, 15 years in the professional leagues,” Brown said. “I was very blessed to be able to do that.”
Now Brown is making a career change and it’s not a surprise that he is using his talents and positive energy help the next generation of hockey fans.
“I will be helping out with the young kids, earlier than travel age, more of the house programs,” Brown said of a portion of his duties. “I will also help the volunteers, which are usually parents that are in charge of the teams on the weekends. Just to make sure they’re comfortable running a bench or if they need any help with drills.”
Brown will also play a large role in the Jr. Sharks program which provides a higher level of competition, but even then, having fun will be one of the most vital aspects of playing hockey under Brown.
“Full-time I’ll be coaching a Jr. Sharks team. At the end of the day, it’s to help the kids have fun and that’s the greatest part of hockey, the fun aspect,” Brown said. “If you ask the guys even at the professional level, the best part has to be the fun part.”
Brown may not be coaching his own kids all the time, but those he does coach will receive the same effort as if they were.
“As a parent, a responsibility is to help these kids become better individuals and ultimately better people down the road,” Brown said. “Some people think it about the Xs and Os and how we’re going to line up and play the game. That is part of it, but I want to be a positive influence on these kids, so it’s two-fold for me.”
Brown had heard from others that he would be terrific with this new line of work, but only recently did it become more relevant for him.
“I think early in my career I would have people now and again say you’d be a good coach,” Brown said. “While you’re playing, those were things you did not want to hear. You’re saying take it easy, I want to keep playing. That last couple of years when I would hear that, I thought that’s interesting.”
That Brown and his family chose San Jose as their landing spot following the lengthy playing career, says a lot about his impressions for parts of three seasons.
“It’s a testament to what we think of the community and some of the friends we’ve met over the years,” Brown said. “One of the great parts of San Jose for us is to have the opportunity to come back to a place we enjoyed geographically, and more importantly, where we enjoyed the people. Everyone that we’ve had an opportunity interact with there, whether it’s the people through the Sharks organization, the people in the city, the people we’ve met when the kids were going to school there, we’ve just had a great experience there.”
Another draw to the Bay Area was the Brown’s put a lot of leg work into their charitable foundation in San Jose. Curtis and Ami founded the Aubri Brown Club, a nonprofit organization with the purpose of helping families who have lost a child. The couple tragically lost their four month old girl to SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome) in September 2005. Since then they have been committed to helping families who have lost a child or know someone who has. (For more information about the organization, go to www.theaubribrownclub.org.)
“With the foundation, in the infant stages of starting it, most of the people that jumped on board to be a part with us are all from the San Jose area,” Brown said. “Now we are going to be closer to one another.”
Counting the two times Brown played for the Sharks, this makes it the family’s third foray to San Jose so let’s hope the third time is the charm.