Sheldon Brookbank

Sheldon Brookbank on transition from former Blackhawks teammate to assistant coach

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AP

Sheldon Brookbank on transition from former Blackhawks teammate to assistant coach

Sheldon Brookbank is no stranger to the Blackhawks organization. He spent two seasons in Chicago to wrap up his playing career, won a Stanley Cup with the team in 2013 and was named an assistant coach for the Rockford IceHogs at the beginning of the 2017-18 season.

On Friday, Brookbank was promoted to assistant coach on Jeremy Colliton's staff with the big club after the two were behind the same bench last season and the start of this year in Rockford.

"I’m excited for the opportunity," Brookbank said. "Big thanks to the Blackhawks for bringing me back here. But I’m looking forward to it. There’s a lot of guys I know on the roster, guys I’ve worked with in Rockford, so I have that level of familiarity with them so I think that will help. Just taking it one day at a time, getting my feet wet and get things going here."

The plan was always to bring Brookbank up with the Blackhawks. Colliton wanted him here from the beginning, but losing two coaches in Rockford at the same time would have put the AHL affiliate in a tough spot.

Together again in Chicago, Colliton is hoping to pick up where they left off and believes Brookbank's background alone adds a valuable element to the Blackhawks staff.

"I didn't know him before," Colliton said. "Hired him in Rockford and after working with him for a year just, first of all tremendous person and cares a lot about the team and the players. Has a varied background in his playing career. Came the back way to the NHL and turned it into 400 games and a Stanley Cup. Played in a bunch of different leagues ... and he's been to Europe, too, which I think is a positive. It makes him really valuable in a lot of different ways. I think he can do many different things, so nice to add him to our staff."

Having been a coach for a season and a half already, Brookbank is past the point where he's adjusting from player to coach. Although, as a defenseman known for being an agitator and sticking up for his teammates, he does occassionally have to remind himself on the bench that he isn't wearing a helmet anymore in certain situations.

"Honestly, it’s sometimes when guys are on the ice or acting up, you don’t have a hand in it anymore," Brookbank said. "You get a little fired up on the bench just watching guys stick guys on your team, and it’s out of your hands. I know that’s kind of a simple thing, but you realize you’re more of a coach now and you let the players do what they do and you keep your cool back there."

The biggest thing now is getting used to the transition of being a former Blackhawks teammate to their assistant coach.

Corey Crawford, Patrick Kane, Duncan Keith, Marcus Kruger, Brent Seabrook and Jonathan Toews were all teammates with Brookbank on the 2013 Stanley Cup-winning team. There's a balance and fine line now between being "one of the guys" and earning their respect as a coach.

But the 38-year-old assistant feels that gives him more of an advantage in his specific role, playing the middle man between the players and head coach. And that's what every team needs.

"There’s definitely a difference between being a coach and a teammate," Brookbank said. "But it helps that I have a relationship with those guys, just with the communication factor. The job for assistant coaches is to be this sort of in-between for the coaching staff and the players. I feel I have a leg up in that sense, that I know some of these guys already and I can talk to them, and have a lot of respect for them. I think it’ll help, having that relationship already."

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What will Sheldon Brookbank's role be as Blackhawks assistant coach?

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AP

What will Sheldon Brookbank's role be as Blackhawks assistant coach?

The Blackhawks announced Friday that they have promoted Sheldon Brookbank to an assistant coach on Jeremy Colliton's staff after he had previously served in that same role for the Rockford IceHogs in the American Hockey League since the 2017-18 season.

Brookbank, 38, was a part of Colliton's staff in Rockford, where he helped lead the IceHogs to their first-ever Western Conference Finals berth last season. He also won a Stanley Cup as a player with the Blackhawks in 2013, a roster that included current members Corey Crawford, Patrick Kane, Duncan Keith, Brent Seabrook and Jonathan Toews.

"It's always been the plan," Colliton said. "I wanted Sheldon here from the beginning. [But we] had to stabilize Rockford, it's tough to lose two guys in a short time. Anders Sörensen has been able to be around more there and now able to take a bigger role, so that allowed us to get Sheldon here."

It's unclear what Brookbank's exact role will be, but his primary responsibilities in Rockford last year included working closely with the defensemen and penalty kill unit, so it wouldn't be surprising to see him assume those same duties in Chicago. For now, it'll be a tag-team approach.

The Blackhawks now have three assistant coaches in Brookbank, Don Granato and Barry Smith, but the plan is for Smith to oversee things from afar for the remainder of the season and will be transitioned back into his role as Director of Player Evaluation.

"I think it's always been the plan that eventually he'll move back to his previous role," Colliton said. "He's been here to help with the transition, help me get accustomed to the NHL level and he's been great. But not a long-term solution."

Replacing Brookbank with the IceHogs on interim coach Derek King's staff is Sörensen, who's in his fifth season as Chicago's development coach. His previous coaching experience includes being an assistant with the Swedish Hockey League's Södertälje from 2011-13 before serving as the interim head coach in October 2013.

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Sheldon Brookbank makes his return to Blackhawks organization

Sheldon Brookbank makes his return to Blackhawks organization

Sheldon Brookbank spent two seasons with the Blackhawks, including the 2013 Stanley Cup run. Now the former defenseman is back in the organization as part of Rockford’s coaching staff.

Brookbank was hired as the IceHogs’ assistant coach on Wednesday. The 36-year-old played for the Blackhawks from 2012-14, recording three goals and five assists in 74 games. He most recently played in the AHL, appearing in six games during the 2016-17 season with the Cleveland Monsters.

Brookbank’s brother, Wade, is currently a scout for the Blackhawks. Brookbank will serve under head coach Jeremy Colliton, who was hired last month. 

Before his stint with the Hawks, Brookbank tallied four goals and 32 assists while playing for the Nashville Predators, New Jersey Devils and Anaheim Ducks.