‘Speak softly but carry a big stick’; Theodore Roosevelt once said that. Whether or not TJ Brodie is a student of presidential history or not, Roosevelt’s motto is a perfect fit for the young defenceman.
Following his 54 game season last year, Brodie was shipped off to the AHL for the duration of the lockout. His puck skills have been clearly NHL-calibre on the farm, but his overall dominance while on the ice for the Heat is what is really worth noting.
A ‘young’ 21 when he made his debut, the now 22-year-old Brodie looks set to step forward for the Flames. We caught up with him after Friday night’s 3-1 loss to Chicago, before he shipped off to Calgary for training camp.
Patrick Johnston: Since the beginning of the season, you’ve had tonnes of ice time thrown at you – almost 25 minutes tonight – that must feel good to know you’ve got the confidence of your coaches?
TJ Brodie: It’s definitely nice, it’s nice getting out there that much. It’s easier to get a rhythm going out there, hopefully that helps me out. It just depends how camp goes.
PJ: What is the thing you find toughest in preparing for a new season? Some guys have told me getting in the gym, or particular workouts…
TJB: I don’t mind going to work out, I know that that’s part of the job. We always do a ‘skate test’ at camp; so the last month of August, we always practice that, it gets pretty tiring. Doing that every other day – it takes its toll.
PJ: You got a particular memory that stands out as number one in your career?
TJB: There’s so many…between the draft and the first nhl game. Both were good experiences. It’s a dream come true when those sorts of things happen.
PJ: When things are tough, what do you do to get yourself mentally re-set?
TJB: Stay calm, play the way I can play. Sometimes when we get up there, you get some jitters, you get too tight, and don’t make the plays that you would normally make. That happened to me my first year and a couple times last year. It’s about relaxing and taking a breath, playing the way you’ve always played.
PJ: So it’s about just letting things flow and being relaxed?
TJB: You’ve got to be relaxed to certain extent I guess, you don’t want to be forcing stuff. Sometimes if you wait that extra half a second, a lane opens up or a guy gives you tape, you can make a better play than if you try to make a quick play. It’s knowing when to move it or when to hold it.
PJ: Ahead of camp, is there a tough memory you look back at to help with your motivation?
TJB: Throughout my whole life, I’ve never been really looked as a ‘that’ calibre of player. Growing up, I was never on any allstar teams. I played Junior B my first year of OHL eligibility; I had to work there. Even in the OHL i was never on the all star there. It’s always been ‘I’ve got to work for everything.’ It’s about remembering where I came from and how I love the game. It all helps.
Despite a relatively crowded blueline, Brodie should be a shoe-in to make the Flames roster this year. The real question is whether he’ll crack the top-4 or not.