Brash Talks, Rimando Watches
Last month the Donald Brashear news was five fights in five games. This month, he's a goal-scoring phenom. I mean, if my math is right, after last night he's averaging a goal every three games in 2007. Plus he was the second star last night. Plus, fans love him.
In fact, after the game, he was surrounded by the mega-horde of probably 20 media persons. Official Caps Beat Writer Tarik El-Bashir asked him about being a fan fave.
"I guess they like my style of play," he said. "I've always had physical play. I'm trying to show the people that are trying to take it away that it's still part of the game."
The horde thinned out, and Bog friend Brian Straus got to asking some long-overdue questions, like about the whole five-in-five thing, and what that was like.
"Sometimes, you know, your hand hurts," Brash said of the frequent-fighting. "But that's our job. We're energy, we're role players, and at any given time we want to be out there trying to hit somebody, intimidate them, or be able to get a fight and get the guys going. So we use many ways to try to do it. A goal scorer will go out there and score goals, you know, that's basically what they do."
Eventually I piped up, telling him how Georges Laraque doesn't like fighting, and asking for his thoughts.
"Well yeah, to tell you the truth, if I didn't have to do it, yeah," Brash said. "If I could just go out there and give body checks and stuff like that....The fighting, me on my part, I always played it different than every other guy. That's what I'm saying, there are guys that will just go out there and try to fight. You know, they don't belong [in] the league, they just go out there and try to get into a fight. And it's a big man thing, they try to prove who's the toughest. That don't change anything at the end of the game, you know?
"But if I go after one of their good players at times and stuff like that, that makes a big difference. And if I can be out there playing, and go hit some of their good players, then their guys've got to come after me, they've got to come on the ice. I don't necessarily have to fight them."
It's about good shifts, Brian asked?
"Exactly," Brash agreed. "Like I said, I never use fighting just to fight. That was always my big thing about fighting. Sometimes it's not fun, you've got to take a few in the head, but you take some and you give some. When I was younger, it was different. I wanted to win all the time. You have your pride. But then you realize what it really is, and what it really can do."
And while, as I've posted before, Brash often looks a tad surly, he spoke almost glowingly about being with the Caps and said that he wants to stick around in the league.
"This year is probably the best year of my career," he said, "with my teammates enjoying the role that I'm playing, and me enjoying my role at the same time."
As for his goal last night....I was sitting with Nick Rimando at the time, learning the following things: that Jacqui (his wife) loves watching hockey officials skate before the periods start, that Nick is trying to trade for Gilbert on his NBA fantasy team, that Nick's first goalkeeping coach was a former hockey goalie with missing teeth, and that goalkeeping is all about angles, whether you're on ice or grass. Nicky liked Olie's work. Kept saying how he had "blinders" on last night, which I gather is a good thing.
"He's sick, dude, eh?" Nick said after one save. "Where's he from, Russia or something?"
[Btw, after the second period Nicky and Jacqui went up to the 400 level to visit with the Euro-Style supporters, who were largely United people. They chanted "Nick Ri-man-do." They posed for photos. They threw popcorn. They shook hands. They told stories. "You don't have to go," someone told Nick.
"We have nothing but love for the guy," longtime DCU fan Banshee Jay told me. "He did us right."
As the third period started, Nicky and Jacqui departed. The supporters started a "Nick-y, Ri-man-do, clap clap, clap clap clap clap," chant, and Nicky raised his hands and clapped at the crowd, and then he and Jacqui walked away, holding hands. I wonder how often pro athletes say goodbye to their supporters like that, in the upper reaches of other arenas, amidst popcorn fights, watching another sport, between periods. Or, "between quarters," as Nicky would say. He's still learning hockey.]
Anyhow, Nicky was taken with Brashear. So when Brash's second-period shot trickled into the net, and we all waited to see whether it would count, and Nicky asked (jokingly) whether the Caps would be charged with a timeout if the goal were disallowed, I pointed to Brashear's unsmiling face on the 'Tron. Even after the goal counted, he didn't smile. Later, I asked Brash about this.
"I knew they were going to go on the replay and check it, so I didn't want to get too happy," he said.
But why no smile after it counted, I asked.
"Well, it was kind of boring," he said. "They kind of took the moment away, you know?"
[FS: Insert corrections here.]
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