October 13, 2006 - Switching jobs is never easy, but it’s a lot less traumatic when you already know your boss.
Brendan Brooks jumped at the chance to come to Grand Rapids this season, having played for head coach Greg Ireland twice before: in junior hockey with the Caledon Canadians and in the ECHL with the Dayton Bombers. He recorded a career-high 29 goals with Dayton during the 2000-01 season.
The speedy, 5-foot-9 skater was ready for a change of scenery after he began feeling stuck in the St. Louis Blues organization last season with little hope of getting an opportunity to play in the NHL.
As a result, Brooks joins the Griffins in great spirits, ready to prove that the Blues’ loss will be the Red Wings’ gain.
What appealed to you about playing for Greg Ireland again?
“He knows what I can do and how to get the best out of me. His coaching style is still the same. He demands hard work and he knows what it takes to win.”
You’re considered one of the fastest skaters in the league. Have you always had good wheels?
“Speed has always been my virtue. I started skating when I was three years old and my dad says I just took off. He never had to get me to go to practice because I just always wanted to go. I was already playing in a league at the age of four. My dad always said that speed was the most important thing.
Did your dad play hockey?
“My dad (Larry Brooks) was a ballplayer. He was a pitcher in the Cardinals organization and reached the Triple-A level before he gave up to own a printing company back home (St. Catharines, Ont). So he knew how to push me, but not push me too much. The best part was he was there when I needed him.”
When were you first told you were “too small?”
“I went out for my local junior B team and they said I couldn’t play because I was too small. I got a tryout in Caledon, made the team, had a great year and won a championship. I think it’s been a positive for me because I’ll do whatever it takes to play like I’m 6-foot. I want to show people I can fight, play tough and survive.”
How was Peoria?
“It’s a good hockey city, kind of like Grand Rapids. The fans take a lot of pride in their team. Whether you’re winning or losing, they’re going to be in your corner. But I was disappointed I didn’t get a shot in St. Louis – that’s one of the reasons I left. I had another year remaining on my contract but I just felt it was time to move on.”
Taste in music or movies?
“I listen to everything, from country to alternative. If I hear something I like, I’ll listen to it. But I’m a big movie guy. I love my movies, anything from action to love stories.”