TAMPA, Fla. — Brent Seabrook had found his go-to line at Tuesday’s media day, and he was sticking to it.
“It’s been a lot of fun. I think that’s going to be the theme of my talking today: it’s been fun,” Seabrook said to laughs.
Seabrook, much like his long-time defensive partner Duncan Keith, isn’t one to talk about himself. Prompted to talk about his postseason game, the one in which he’s scored six goals and played strong minutes throughout, he gave the “it’s-fun” quote. But ask others, especially his Blackhawks teammates, and you get plenty of praise for a defenseman who’s had big moments on the ice and who isn’t afraid to have a big voice off it.
“He’s one of those guys who says the right things, does the right things, on the bench as well. Over the course of meaningful games, big shifts, he seems to rise to the challenge,” coach Joel Quenneville said. “We’ve seen him come up with some clutch goals in overtime and regular season the same way. The bigger the games get, he responds. He’s had a nice playoff as well.”
Seabrook hasn’t saved the big moments, or big talks, for just this postseason. He did both in the Blackhawks’ second-round series against Detroit back in 2013. Midway through that series, he gave a frustrated Jonathan Toews a quick pep talk while the captain sat in the penalty box. In Game 7 of that series, Seabrook scored the overtime winner to send the Blackhawks to the Western Conference Final.
Patrick Sharp said he and teammates joke about Seabrook’s “superstitions and preparations. They haven’t changed since 2005.”
“He's pretty much got everything planned out from the time he wakes up to the time he plays the game. He's got an off day, a practice day and a game day. That's how he lives,” said Sharp. “I don't expect they will change for this series and I think that kind of pays off this time of year. In big games and overtimes, he sticks to what works.
"You mentioned leadership," Sharp continued. "A lot of guys in the room look up to him as a leader. He's always got a smile on his face and he's gotten a lot funnier over the years and makes everybody laugh, and one of the best teammates I've ever had.”
Kimmo Timonen, who played with Seabrook some this season, sees the same traits.
“I think he’s one of the bigger leaders on this team,” he said. “If you look at him before the game, what he says in the room, how energized he is, he’s a really good leader. The way he plays, he plays hard every game he wants to win. There are many leaders but he’s one of the biggest.”
And then there’s Seabrook’s shot, a cannon of an offering that’s gotten through at critical times. He scored the Blackhawks’ final goal of the Western Conference Final, a power-play goal that pretty much erased the Anaheim Ducks’ chances of coming back in that Game 7.
“Teams check so well now that it’s important that the defense help out offensively and Seabs has a great, heavy shot. You saw that in the first three rounds,” Keith said. “Just like Toews and [Patrick] Kane, he’s a guy who’s a big part of this team’s success. He’s a big reason why we’re going to the finals and, like I said, his passion and commitment and the will to get it done is what stands out.”
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Seabrook has been a big reason why the Blackhawks have gone to the Stanley Cup Final three times in the past six seasons. He’s gone from part of the team’s rebuilding process to a key part of their leadership group, even if he doesn’t have a letter on his sweater. He’s fueled by his family, which will be growing soon. He’s also fueled by the game, which continues to be a blast.
“I’ve got a kid now, another one on the way, so it’s been fun to see him at the games. And being able to share this with my wife and son is cool. To be able to do that and just be with the guys, you do appreciate it a lot more. It doesn’t go by as fast,” Seabrook said. “They’re all grinds, they’re all tough. But I’ve been here with the same group for three times and it’s been fun sharing the moments, the ups and downs and battles with these guys.”