After becoming a free agent after the 2003-04 season, Curtis Brown, who was acquired in a trade-deadline move just three months earlier, left the Sharks organization in what was a tough decision for him and his family. Although it was a tough decision to make, Brown left San Jose open to the possibility of one day playing for team teal again.
This past off-season, when Sharks General Manager Doug Wilson was evaluating the 2005-06 season and looking for ways to improve the club, he didn’t have to look any further than Brown. In an attempt to improve the Sharks special teams, Wilson was excited to bring the veteran back in to San Jose where he has been a staple on the penalty kill.
In addition, in just 30 games Brown has matched his goal total from the 2005-06 season when he was in Chicago (5). Enjoying being back in the Bay Area, Brown sat down with Rink Report to answer some questions.
RR: What made you want to come back to San Jose this past off-season?
CB: Everything we went through on and off the ice last season was difficult for me. To be able to come back to an organization that is very professional and filled with great people from the top to the bottom was a huge reason we wanted to come back. There’s a lot of character here. My wife being from Southern California doesn’t hurt since she’s closer to her family. I came back to a team that is moving in the right direction and I wanted to be a part of something special.
RR: Describe what makes you so strong on the penalty kill.
CB: The funny part about the penalty kill is that when I came into the League they wouldn’t let me do it. I played mainly on the power play. I think over the years I’ve watched guys do it and tried to learn things from them. I don’t really think when I go out there too much other than knowing that we have to take away the oppositions time and space. If you can make them make a play a fraction of a second before they are comfortable to do so, maybe you can force a turnover. I really just go out there and try to help the team kill off their advantage.
What do you prefer, killing off a crucial power play or scoring a goal and why?
You know that’s not really an either or. I think they’re both good. You want to go out and help the team wherever they need help. I want to try to stay away from saying I’d rather do one or the other. I’d love to go out and help the team in certain instances and give them a goal, but at the same time in this new NHL, there are a lot of responsibility on the special teams. So to go out there and kill a penalty that might help you win the game is just as important as getting a goal. I want to do a little bit of both.
What is your game-day routine?
I go down to the arena in the morning for the pre-game skate, getting loosened up. I have a pre-game lunch somewhere filled with carbs and protein, then I go relax for a couple of hours with my family before I lay down and have a little nap. People always say, “why do you guys always have a nap?” I just figure it would be a long day without napping trying to start your job at 7:30 at night. Most people are getting ready for bed by then. So I take a nap to get ready then I come down and get ready to go. There’s not a whole lot of things I do. It’s mostly just schedule, skating, eating, sleeping and getting ready for the game.
What are your passions away from the ice?
The most important thing for me, and it’s difficult because our schedule is pretty busy, but just because of everything we went though last year off the ice losing our daughter, is family. Just the kids and my wife, it’s the whole family atmosphere that’s the most important thing to me. When we have time, we try to do something with all of them or most of them. I try to spend as much time as I can.
As a veteran on the club, in what ways do you try to lead the team?
Having been in a lot of situations and having been on some teams that have done some things right, it helps me try to help these guys. I make sure I notice and encourage them. I think when guys make a mistake they know it. Sometimes something needs to be said but other times it’s better to encourage a guy and talk them through a situation. Just the same way I hope they’d do with me. It’s funny because on our team we don’t really look at age or years or anything like that. I think in order to be successful you’re going to need everybody keeping everyone accountable. As a veteran maybe I’ve just seen a little more. I just try to help the guys out and keep them encouraged. Sometimes over a long year you can get down on yourself or second guess yourself. I just think even in life that’s my philosophy: to always be an encourager.
What has been the highlight of your hockey career up to this point?
That’s a tough question because I hope I haven’t achieved it yet. Every player’s ultimate highlight or dream would be to win the Stanley Cup. Obviously I haven’t done that yet, so I can’t really answer that. But I think anytime you win a championship it’s fun. I guess one of the highlights would be in ’96 I won the gold medal with team Canada at the World Junior Championships. At that age, it was the biggest tournament. So that was pretty cool to represent my country and win that championship.
Who are the top three players you’ve played with in your career and why?
Dominik Hasek in Buffalo is one. Because I got to see him so much, maybe I’m a little bit biased. But as far as I’m concerned he’s the best goalie that has ever played. Just so good athletically, positionally, everything you look for. But then the intangible he had was that he was just such a competitor. In practice, if you had three, or four, or five rebounds on him, he would fight and fight and fight. And if you scored on the fifth or sixth rebound, five-on-zero against him, he was disappointed about that. So just his competitive nature probably made him even more special.
I think a really special player was Alexander Mogilny. He was so shifty and quick at the same time. Some guys are unbelievably quick in one direction, but he was just as quick going left-to-right or side-to-side as he was going frontward-to-backwards. And all the while his hands could keep up with him. It was amazing just to watch him play and the things that he could do.
is another. He’s a special player. Obviously everyone knows that in San Jose. The thing that makes him special is that he can do it all. He’s a big player, he’s got great vision, he’s a great passer and he can fend off a lot of what the opposition is trying to give to him because he’s so big. He can keep the puck away and protect it. Probably from what I’ve played with, he’s the best passer that I’ve seen. He fits the puck through places where most players wouldn’t try because they know the odds wouldn’t’ be that good of getting it through. So he’s pretty neat to watch.
Where do you see yourself in 20 years?
Oh my goodness. Twenty years? I don’t even know where I see myself sometime in the next day. It’s not a bad thing to plan or look ahead, but in the business we’re in, it’s awful tough. I just try to take it one day at a time and do the best I can with today, then put it behind and move on to tomorrow. That’s more the way I look at things. Not to look too far ahead. There are a lot of things you can’t predict out there in the future. My hope would be that me and my family would be healthy and happy and I’d be doing something that I love to do. Other than that I don’t know where I’ll be.