Eric Brewer holds the dubious distinction of being the man who was traded for Chris Pronger.
At first, fans rode Brewer hard, taking their anger from the trade out on him. Interestingly, Pronger himself was ridiculed for being “soft” and for terrible play after Mike Keenan traded Brendan Shanahan for him.
But while fans eventually came to love Pronger, not everyone has come around to Brewer. In fact, most fans still heckle him when he makes mistakes on the ice.
Personally, I refuse to believe that the Pronger trade is sufficiently fresh in the minds of Blues fans for them to continue to lash out at him. The main problem, I believe, is inconsistency.
Last night, Brewer played a solid game. A few shaky moments, but overall, he played well. The problem is…how long will he play to that level?
Last year, Brewer was a fish out of water on the power play. He has never been touted for his offensive prowess, and the coach and an insufficient puck-moving backline are to blame for a poor power play. Brewer did not deserve to be thrown out there by Coach Murray. He’s just not the type of defenseman, and it’s hard to fault the player when the coaching staff keeps throwing him out there.
He is however, a defensive defenseman, and this is where Blues fans are most frustrated with Brewer. You never know if you are going to get the Brewer that played for Team Canada, or if you are going to get (the far more common) Brewer who plays like an AHLer.
Too many times, Brewer takes a bad penalty at a bad time. He botches an outlet pass that results in a goal. He gets caught out of position in his own zone. He doesn’t use his big frame enough. He makes poor overall decisions in his own zone. Basically, the AHL Brewer shows up on far more nights than the Team Canada Brewer.
Part of the reason is because he tries to do too much. Last night, he had an open man, but would try (unsuccessfully) to carry the puck around a Predator in his own zone. Maybe the coaching staff – in addition to playing him in the right situations – needs to tell him to keep it simple, stupid.
Brewer is the captain of this team. I find it hard to question a choice of captain since I am not in the locker room. But the fact remains that he is the leader of this team not. Keep the game simple. Don’t take bad penalties. Play your position. BE CONSTISTENT!!! THAT is the kind of example a young team needs.
What kind of message is sent to a young team when their captain can not string together three good games in a row? Hopefully, Brewer will change this year, but after watching years past, I’m not too optimistic at this point.
So, we shall see which Brewer shows up tonight. Will it be the Brewer who goes out and does his job? Or will it be the Brewer who goes out and tries to do too much?