Sunday, June 24, 2018
Tampa Bay Lightning

Lightning's J.T. Brown tough like NFL dad

COLUMBUS, Ohio — You know what the best part was for J.T. Brown about having a father who did not understand hockey?

There wasn't what Brown called "overbearing pressure" or "too much constructive criticism" which, he noticed with some of his friends in Rosemount, Minn., many times turned into yelling.

Instead, Brown's father, Ted, who played running back for eight seasons for the NFL's Vikings, had one message.

"He always talked to me about controlling how hard I work," Brown said. "That's the only thing you can actually control in a game. You can't control the outcome. You can control how hard you work."

"That allowed him to be who he wants to be," Ted said, "not who I want him to be."

What J.T. Brown, 23, has become is an intriguing addition to the Lightning.

Called up from AHL Syracuse on Nov. 12, the day after Steven Stamkos broke his right leg, the wing has maintained a spot on the second line — right now with center Alex Killorn and Nikita Kucherov — and played on the first power-play unit.

He is fast, gritty and, despite being an undersized 5 feet 10, 172 pounds, is a regular in corners and in front of the net.

In nine games he has only one goal and two points. But with 24 shots in that stretch, most on the team, coach Jon Cooper said goals can't be far away.

"He's fearless, and you can't have enough of those guys," Cooper said. "It's rare you see him take the puck and pull up; it's going to the net, somehow, some way. You've been witness to the chances he's been getting. That's because he's not afraid to go to the net. When you have that fearless gene, it's just a matter of time before he starts putting them in."

That fearless gene might as well be called the father gene because that was the way Ted Brown (5-10, 206) played for Minnesota from 1979-86, with 4,546 rushing yards, 40 rushing touchdowns and 13 touchdown catches.

Asked if he can see some of himself in his son, Ted said of course, especially in the "physicality of his game. He sticks his nose in places. Instead of me running down the field trying to run over somebody to get to the goal, he's trying to skate around somebody to get to the goal. It's the same mentality."

Ted said he never pushed J.T. to play football, and J.T. said he only played in local rec leagues before deciding in high school to concentrate on hockey.

But when J.T. played football he was a running back and he still wears his father's No. 23.

"I get a little bit of background from football with my dad, and I try to take that onto the ice," said J.T., who signed in March 2012 out of the University of Minnesota-Duluth. "You can't be afraid to go into corners, even though you might not be the biggest person."

"My philosophy was play hard, play smart, play together," Ted said. "I always tell him that. Never let anyone dictate what you want to do."

Like father, like son.

Drouin named: Prospect Jonathan Drouin, the No. 3 overall draft pick, will play for Canada at the 2014 world junior championship.

Medical matters: Left wing Pierre-Cedric Labrie (arm/elbow) traveled with the team, though it was unclear if he will play tonight at Columbus. … D Radko Gudas (upper body) is expected back in the lineup for Saturday's home game against the Jets, Cooper said.

Damian Cristodero can be reached at [email protected]

Comments
Former Mitchell High player Nathan Smith taken in NHL draft by Jets

Former Mitchell High player Nathan Smith taken in NHL draft by Jets

It's rare to see an NHL draft pick with Tampa Bay ties, but the Jets used a third-round pick Saturday on center Nathan Smith, 19, who played for Mitchell High School in Trinity and most recently for the Cedar Rapids RoughRiders of the USHL.Smith was ...
Published: 06/23/18
Report: Lightning to talk to John Tavares during free-agent courting period

Report: Lightning to talk to John Tavares during free-agent courting period

Despite limited salary-cap room, the Lightning is among at least five teams expected to talk with Islanders All-Star center John Tavares, who can be a free agent July 1, when the courting period begins Sunday, ESPN reported.Tavares also is expected t...
Published: 06/23/18
Another small, quick forward headlines Lightning’s draft picks

Another small, quick forward headlines Lightning’s draft picks

Even without a first-round pick, the Lightning wrapped up its draft with seven picks Saturday, starting with Gabriel Fortier, an undersized 18-year-old forward from Quebec in the second round."They were guys that we really wanted," Lightning director...
Published: 06/23/18
Lightning takes Quebec LW Gabriel Fortier with second-round pick

Lightning takes Quebec LW Gabriel Fortier with second-round pick

The Lightning is on the board in the 2018 NHL draft, using their first pick — 59th overall in the second round — on Gabriel Fortier, an undersize left wing from Quebec."I spoke with them a couple of times, so I knew there was an interest,...
Published: 06/23/18
Live blog: 2018 NHL entry draft

Live blog: 2018 NHL entry draft

The Lightning isn't scheduled to pick until the second round, but there's no telling how active they might be with trades, so you'll want to follow our live coverage throughout the NHL draft Friday (Round 1) and Saturday (Rounds 2-7) in Dallas.(funct...
Published: 06/23/18
Lightning re-signs backup goalie Louis Domingue to 2-year deal

Lightning re-signs backup goalie Louis Domingue to 2-year deal

The Lightning has re-signed one of its restricted free agents in backup goalie Louis Domingue, who will be back with Tampa Bay on a two-year deal worth $2.3 million.Domingue, 26, was acquired from Arizona in November after he had posted a 4.33 goals-...
Published: 06/22/18
Lightning names ex-player Jeff Halpern as new assistant coach

Lightning names ex-player Jeff Halpern as new assistant coach

The Lightning has filled one of the openings on Jon Cooper's coaching staff, announcing Friday  that former Tampa Bay forward Jeff Halpern has been hired as an assistant coach.Halpern, 42, has spent the past two seasons as an assistant with the ...
Published: 06/22/18
Steve Yzerman: Lightning won’t re-sign forward Chris Kunitz

Steve Yzerman: Lightning won’t re-sign forward Chris Kunitz

As expected, Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman said he does not intend to re-sign veteran forward Chris Kunitz, who will seek his fifth Stanley Cup with a different team next season.Kunitz, 38, brought much-needed playoff experience in his lone...
Published: 06/22/18
2018-19 schedule unveiled: Lightning opens with five straight at home

2018-19 schedule unveiled: Lightning opens with five straight at home

NHL schedules all balance out at the end, but the Lightning will open 2018-19 with five straight home games and end the season with its last four on the road.The Lightning released its schedule Thursday evening for the upcoming season, with all sorts...
Published: 06/21/18
Updated: 06/22/18
Without a first-rounder, Lightning still could have busy draft weekend

Without a first-rounder, Lightning still could have busy draft weekend

The Lightning doesn't have a first-round pick in this weekend's draft, but that's not to say the weekend couldn't be busy for general manager Steve Yzerman and his front office.The Lightning sent its top draft pick to the Rangers in February as part ...
Published: 06/21/18