Make us your home page
Instagram

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Eric Brewer embraces leadership role with Lightning

Lightning defenseman Eric Brewer is a low-key leader on and off the ice.

DIRK SHADD | Times

Lightning defenseman Eric Brewer is a low-key leader on and off the ice.

BUFFALO, N.Y. — When Lightning defenseman Eric Brewer scored his first and only goal of the season March 20 against the Senators, what struck teammate Mike Kostka most was the smallness of Brewer's reaction.

Despite glove bumps, laughs and congratulations at the bench and cries of "Bobby Brew," Brewer did little more than smile.

"It was a (great) goal," Kostka said of the zippy, high backhand. "But it was funny. He scores that goal and it's as if he had done it 100 times. No big deal. He just went about the rest of his game."

That is Brewer in a nutshell.

He plays a quiet game, for the most part. Sure, he'll take the opportunity to rush the puck up the ice when it is there, but his priority is being a solid presence in the defensive zone.

Brewer is not a rah-rah type but is not afraid to speak up when something needs to be said in the locker room or on the bench. So when Steven Stamkos was elevated to captain after Marty St. Louis was traded to the Rangers at the deadline this month, Brewer, 34, was the natural choice to wear the alternate's "A" that had been Stamkos'.

"He's been such an unbelievable leader without (a letter)," coach Jon Cooper said of Brewer, "we would have been remiss not to give him one."

"I'm happy they are understanding of me," Brewer said. "I'm happy to put my stick on the pile, play the game and carry on."

Brewer, acquired from the Blues in February 2011 for prospect Brock Beukeboom and a third-round draft pick, is perhaps having his best season for the Lightning with a goal, 14 points, 83 blocked shots and 128 hits, tied for second on the team.

At plus-6, he has been plus or even in 53 of his 68 games, and he averages 2:12 on the penalty kill, third on the team.

But here's the thing: Brewer's average 17:22 of ice time is down 3:08 from last season. Cooper said the idea is to play Brewer less and keep him fresh so the minutes he does play "are really effective."

The addition of rookie Radko Gudas and more minutes for Victor Hedman have facilitated that strategy.

"And I think that's helped him," Cooper said of Brewer, "though he's not going to want to hear that."

No, he won't.

Asked how he reconciled himself to less playing time, Brewer — who plays his 957th NHL game tonight against the Sabres at the First Niagara Center — said, "Well, you don't. If you're happy playing less minutes, you're a loser, but you deal with it. You're constantly trying to get better and work on your game and help the team win."

"Just real smart," Kostka said of his defensive partner. "He's played for so long and at such a high level, you can tell guys who have been in those situations more than others, just how calm he is. Even during games, if we have a shift we weren't totally thrilled with, he's pretty quick to say, 'Let's sharpen up here,' but in a real calm way."

Such as the way Brewer reacted after his goal.

"He's been so good for us," fellow defenseman Sami Salo said. "It was nice to see him score and get rewarded."

Eric Brewer embraces leadership role with Lightning 03/28/14 [Last modified: Friday, March 28, 2014 11:15pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Calvary Christian routs Pensacola Christian to win state baseball title

    Baseballpreps

    FORT MYERS — Calvary Christian left no doubt as to which baseball team in Class 4A was the best in Florida this season. The Warriors defeated Pensacola Catholic 11-1 in six innings Saturday night at Hammond Stadium to claim the school's first state championship in any team sport. It also solidified a perfect 30-0 …

    Matheu Nelson of Calvary Christian celebrates scoring on a wild pitch during the first inning.
  2. Numerous lapses add up to frustrating Rays loss to Twins

    The Heater

    MINNEAPOLIS — While the Rays made some good defensive plays, threw a couple of big pitches when they needed to and got a few, and just a few, key hits, there were some obvious things they did wrong that led to them losing Saturday's game to the Twins 5-3:

    Rays reliever Tommy Hunter says the Twins’ tiebreaking homer came on a pitch that was “close to where I wanted it.”
  3. Rays journal: Steven Souza Jr. laughing right along after comical dive

    The Heater

    MINNEAPOLIS — Souza being Souza.

    That seemed to be the best way to describe the entertaining — and comically bad — dive Rays RF Steven Souza Jr. attempted in Friday's game, and the good humor he showed in handling the fallout, including a standing ovation his next at-bat from the …

    Twitter
  4. Marc Topkin's takeaways from Saturday's Rays-Twins game

    The Heater

    RHP Jake Odorizzi had to battle without his best stuff again, which is becoming a more common occurrence, leading to long at-bats — including 13 pitches to Kennys Vargas in the fifth — and running up his pitch count to 118 without finishing the sixth.

  5. Roberto Aguayo faces stiff test to keep Bucs' placekicker job

    Bucs

    TAMPA — The wind is never going to be at Roberto Aguayo's back when he lines up for a field goal or extra point this offseason in his quest to remain the Bucs' kicker.

    Roberto Aguayo, coming off a rookie season in which he had an NFL-worst 71 percent field-goal accuracy, made only 1 of 4 Tuesday on the narrow goalposts at One Buc Place as he begins his battle to keep his job.