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For Brashear, Fighting's a Way of Life

(Toni L. Sandys - The Washington Post)

If you haven't yet, set aside some time to read this incredibly moving story by Mike Wise on Capitals enforcer Donald Brashear, who overcame an abusive childhood to become one of the NHL's most feared players. Here's the intro:

Outside the Washington Capitals locker room, the most feared fighter in the National Hockey League stared at a sealed envelope that had just been handed to him by a reporter. On the front, in neat, cursive writing, a relative whom Donald Brashear has not seen for 18 years had written simply, "Donald." Brashear clutched the envelope in his swollen left hand, the hand he has shaped into the cudgel of a fist in 223 fights over 15 violent seasons in the NHL. He thought hard about opening it, whether he wanted to peel back the layers of his past, because, he said, "there are some things I don't want to know, some doors I don't want to open."

Click here to read the story -- you won't regret it.

Also check out this video, The Softer Side of Donald Brashear:

More of today's Caps coverage ahead of Game 1 this afternoon:

*The Caps-Pens rivalry goes back much farther than Ovie-Crosby. Check out the gallery here.

*The Caps will face a much tougher test on defense against the offensively adept Penguins.

*Semifinal series preview, with matchups, schedule, regular-season history and more.

By Lindsay Applebaum  |  May 2, 2009; 7:24 AM ET
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Video: Ovechkin Returns, Injury Updates
Next: Caps-Pens on Mobile





Posted by: ludeman95 | May 2, 2009 7:40 AM | Report abuse

At home, I open the paper and there A1, above the fold, is the Donald's mug. I start reading thinking it will be another story about fighting, the Code, etc. Oh no. A moving yet horrible and still compelling story. At a loss for words, really.

Great job, WaPo.

Posted by: oldtimehockey | May 2, 2009 7:44 AM | Report abuse

What a fantastic story. I wasn't sold on Mike Wise covering hockey, but man, he can cover people sometimes.

Posted by: KurtNYC | May 2, 2009 7:51 AM | Report abuse

Very well done Mr. Wise!

Posted by: ludeman95 | May 2, 2009 8:01 AM | Report abuse

Seems insufficient, but... Wow.

Posted by: jdhoover | May 2, 2009 8:12 AM | Report abuse

I found the story by Mike Wise well-written, and compelling. However, as a person who was also the product of a painful childhood, I am troubled by the intrusiveness of the research for the story, and the violation of privacy that it inflicts on Donald Brashear. Like Donald, I deal with my own difficult childhood by repressing the memories, and living in the here and now. Imagine how Donald must feel to have his family's darkest secrets strewn across the pages of the Washington Post front page. I would be mortified, and feel violated by this sort of exposure. I think Mike Wise may be looking for some journalistic recognition (Pulitzer?) for his piece, but he may have overlooked the basic human effects on Donald of such an intrusive and painful revelation of his family's struggles. I say shame on Mike Wise.

Posted by: pcalver1 | May 2, 2009 8:18 AM | Report abuse

I hope I'm not the only one who tears up after reading the Brashear piece.

Well done. Thank you.

Posted by: Cerealman | May 2, 2009 8:19 AM | Report abuse

@cerealman you weren't alone. I shed a tear myself after reading the brashear piece.

@pcalver1 while i was reading the piece, i also was wondering "does brashear know this much of his painful past is being exposed/shared with the public? did he get to ok this piece before it was printed?"

Posted by: kyl1 | May 2, 2009 8:46 AM | Report abuse

Great piece on Brash.

I was a bit bothered by the general coverage this morning, though, and it's focus on our history against the Pens. But this is not the team that got beat by the Pens for so long. I suppose the story is a nice set up should the Caps win, but I didn't want to read about that. I was there too for all those failures, but I feel like our team did not rack up those losses. This is a new day.

Go Caps!

Posted by: Sonyask | May 2, 2009 8:53 AM | Report abuse

If anyone is looking for tix for today, I have a pair in 106 (great seats right behind the goal we shoot twice on) that are on TicketExchange for regular price + fees. Or email me at How sick do you have to be to miss today's game? Well, I am over that line...

Posted by: bubblegirl1 | May 2, 2009 8:56 AM | Report abuse

Strange time to run this article on the front page!

Posted by: TJ91 | May 2, 2009 8:59 AM | Report abuse

I guess it's no surprise that the NHL's toughest enforcer is a complicated man. I am glad he's a Cap and hope he stays one. I also hope he finds some closure on his family issues. Heartbreaking story.

Posted by: CAP-lanta | May 2, 2009 9:57 AM | Report abuse

Cheer like a champion today...Dont take no crap from Pittsburgh fans..Let em know who's house it is...

Posted by: SA-Town | May 2, 2009 9:59 AM | Report abuse

For those worried about the "history" of this series, just look through the photo gallery. When you see all those old shots of Gonchar (as a Cap), Olie, Hedberg, Tugnutt, Kevin Stevens (who even remembers him?), you'll realize today's series has NOTHING to do with the past. Caps in 6. GO CAPS!

Posted by: CAP-lanta | May 2, 2009 10:01 AM | Report abuse

Great article on Brashear. You gotta feel for the guy.

Posted by: SombreroGuy | May 2, 2009 10:17 AM | Report abuse

While the fans have traumatic memories of Caps-Penguins playoff series past, the players don't. Our main stars were little kids for most of them.

But speaking of traumatic memories, the Red Sox had finally avenged the Yankees, coming back from a 3-0 game deficit, which was the first time it had ever happened in a baseball playoff.

Posted by: CapsFan75 | May 2, 2009 10:30 AM | Report abuse

What an amazing piece of journalism (I did not know Wise had it in him based on the coverage I have seen from him thus far....I only follow hockey, sports wise).

I have got to believe, or hope Brashear gave the 'okay' on this piece, because otherwise it is extremely intrusive. But they do have a bunch of quotes from Brashear throughout the story, so I have got to think he knew about this.

As for today's game, who cares about history? No one on this team was on any of the teams that lost to the Penguins in the past. Let today's team author a new chapter in the Caps/ Penguins playoff rivalry.

Cannot wait! Lets go caps!!!!!

Posted by: The_Stanley_Caps | May 2, 2009 10:49 AM | Report abuse

I could be wrong, but the only player on either team that I think was involved in the last Caps Pens series is Gonchar. Lets hope he turns one over at the Blueline to us this time.

Posted by: SombreroGuy | May 2, 2009 10:51 AM | Report abuse

I have to think Brash was involved in the story since he gave the reporter his feelings from reading the letter.

Maybe having the story in print is part of the healing process.

The story reminded me to be grateful for my own parents and to be hopeful I've done enough as a parent and to try harder.

Any child suffering is a terrible thing. Humans can be the most brutal of animals.

His mother doesn't sound like a bad person; it just seems like she had her own demons and was overwhelemed. My best to Brash and here's hoping he finds his peace. Maybe after hockey he will reunite with them.

Posted by: tominfl1 | May 2, 2009 11:22 AM | Report abuse

Mike Wise has written an excellent piece. One of the best articles that I have read in quite some time. Well done!

Posted by: RepoMan1 | May 2, 2009 12:17 PM | Report abuse

Wow, great article. I was a big fan of Brash to begin with, but this makes you want to root for him even more. He has reached great success in his life by overcoming adversity and just being tough, on and off the ice.

Posted by: CPortisRun | May 2, 2009 6:29 PM | Report abuse

Wise on Hockey: So So

Wise on Humanity: Gold

Posted by: just_say_ov | May 2, 2009 9:55 PM | Report abuse

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