Derick Brassard Deserves High Praise

Over the past few seasons Derick Brassard has emerged as one of the New York Rangers top forwards. Since being traded from the Columbus Blue Jackets in April 2013, Brassard has rose to prominence, and has found ways to overshadow some of the NHL’s superstars. While some falter under the bright lights, he has only shone brighter.

His finesse and skill set were on display again when the New York Rangers took on the Ottawa Senators Sunday night.

The Rangers really needed a boost. After dropping five of the last six games and seeing their stance in the Metropolitan Division slip, the Rangers had to find a way to get their game back. It seems they did, as Brassard and Ryan McDonagh each scored a power-play goal and Brassard tacked on another to down the Senators 4-1 (Jesper Fast scored an empty netter). While it was a team effort, with Henrik Lundqvist again anchoring the back end, it was the combination of the playmaking forward and well-rounded defenseman that led the Rangers victory.

Brassard has truly impressed me since coming to New York. It seems he keeps getting better with age, playing his best hockey on Broadway. It isn’t just his hockey IQ, vision and passing skills that are worthy of note, which of course they are, but it is also his leadership.

An ‘A’ might not be printed on his jersey, but Brassard has become a leader on the ice and in the locker room. No matter the situation, win or lose, there is a good chance Brassard will be by his locker ready and willing to answer the media’s questions. He is someone the younger players look up to and someone the media trusts. Why? Because he has proven he knows the game, is deeply committed to his team and he is consistently making himself part of the storyline.

What is most striking about Brassard, and likely one of the many reasons he has been successfully as a hockey player, is he plays with a lot of emotion. The way he reacts to goals, either by himself or his teammates, is what makes the game enjoyable. But he also does something with that emotion which others players can’t; he controls it. Brassard, 99.9 percent of the time, plays with a level head. He rarely lets his emotions get the best of him. He may get in a minor scuffle once in awhile, but most of the time he lets his game do the talking.

This is a rare and admirable quality in a player. By no means is Brassard a choir boy and of course he has taken his fair share of did-you-seriously-just-do-that penalties, but for the most part Brassard has been able to succeed due to his chemistry with his linemates, particularly Mats Zuccarello, and his skill level. He plays his game and his game just so happens to work really well with Alain Vigneault’s style.

Brassard is one of the players that New York will want healthy for the entire season. He isn’t just a key component to the team’s power play, which has been tremendously successful of late (not something often said about that special teams unit), but he is also a strong centerman who know how to control the play of the game. Over the course of his time in New York, Brassard has proven time and again that he is a force to be reckoned with.

He may not be a big body and he may not have the numbers to be considered an elite player, but he is consistent, skilled and plays with heart. And he deserves some high praise for his ability to breathe new life into the Rangers (recently) limp offense.