Brendan Lemieux proud to model game after father
Left wing Brendan Lemieux of the Barrie Colts considers himself the silent but deadly type.
As the son of former NHL player and four-time Stanley Cup champion Claude Lemieux, that shouldn't come as a surprise. The family patriarch made a living out of making life miserable for the opposition whenever he stepped on the ice, and it usually worked.
Does dad notice similarities between his style and the way his son now attacks the game?
"Yes, Brendan plays a very similar style of hockey that I did back when I played," Claude Lemieux told NHL.com. "Having said that, it's hard to compare playing today's game versus the old NHL of the '80s and '90s. The game today is less physical and much more of a skill game played at a faster pace, so Brendan is forced to be different than I was because of the way the game is played."
Despite all that, Brendan said he still models his game after father.
"We're two guys that try and think defence and then, in the playoffs, shutting down the big players and playing your best," Brendan said. "I'm defensively committed but will also take it the other way."
Lemieux said he's at his best when playing playoff-style hockey.
He certainly opened some eyes with clutch goals and feistiness in his second full season for the Colts in the Ontario Hockey League in 2013-14, totaling 27 goals, 53 points and 145 penalty minutes in 65 regular-season games. He moved up 10 spots to No. 28 on NHL Central Scouting's final ranking of the top North American skaters eligible for the 2014 NHL Draft.
The Colts were eliminated in six games by the North Bay Battalion in the Eastern Conference semifinals April 13, but Brendan finished with seven goals (three power-play goals), 10 points and 16 penalty minutes in 11 postseason games.
In addition to coming up big in clutch situations, Lemieux relished his role as an agitator for Barrie coach Dale Hawerchuk.
"I think I try not to talk too much, but Dale and dad have been working with me on being that silent killer who can agitate someone with a smile, a wink or just a slash behind the play," Lemieux said. "Whatever it may be, that's part of my pedigree and comes natural to me. I also know being able to score and having some skill to get by is important."
Brendan was asked what separates him from his father.
"I try and model my game after him, so hopefully not too much," he said.
In addition to compiling 1,777 penalty minutes in 1,215 regular-season NHL games, Claude ended his career tied for third with Joe Sakic on the all-time NHL list with 19 game-winning goals in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. He twice won the Stanley Cup (1995 and 2000) as a member of the New Jersey Devils, winning the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP in '95. He also won the Cup in 1986 with the Montreal Canadiens and in 1996 with the Colorado Avalanche.
Brendan had 28 interviews with teams at the NHL Scouting Combine in Toronto May 26-30 and scored well in the fitness testing. He finished with 14 repetitions on the 150-pound bench press, well above the testing average of 7.7.
One of the more intriguing interviews for Brendan took place with the Detroit Red Wings. It was during Game 6 of the 1996 Western Conference Final that Claude Lemieux, then with the Avalanche, hit Detroit's Kris Draper from behind, driving Draper into the top of the boards near the Red Wings' bench and leaving Draper with a broken jaw, cheek bone and orbital bone.
Draper, now a special assistant to Red Wings general manager Ken Holland, was on hand when the interview took place with Brendan.
"We had a great conversation," Brendan said. "He's a really nice guy. I did not think I was going to get interviewed by them, let alone have it be serious. I thought they were going to walk in, make a few jokes and I was going to leave, but I have nothing but good things to say about their organization. They were extremely professional and they barely brought it up. I tried to joke about it and they weren't even budging.
"I have no problem playing in Detroit after that interview, for sure."
There's going to come a moment during the 2014 NHL Draft at Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia when Brendan Lemieux's name will be announced. To fans of the Philadelphia Flyers, the surname most certainly will conjure up some bad memories. After all, Claude had 12 goals, including three game-winners, and 36 points in 53 regular-season games against the Flyers, and eight goals (one game-winner) and 13 points in 24 playoff games.
So unless the Flyers are the team announcing Lemieux as their draft pick, one would expect the locals to cringe whenever his name is called.
"My mom loves to chat about which teams might draft me; any NHL team would be awesome," Brendan said. "I still remember those days in Philadelphia when I'd be sitting with mom and we'd hear fans call my dad all different names. You need to have a tough skin, but I enjoyed it to be honest."
Claude said he's excited, not nervous, for his son.
"I believe in destiny, so the team that will select him is where he will make his home for a while," he said. "I just hope that he's selected by a team that develops their young players well since some teams are better at it than others."
What about the Devils, who own the No. 30 pick in the first round?
"I'd love to play anywhere my dad played, but New Jersey is special," Brendan said. "He won an MVP [Conn Smythe Trophy] there and two Cups."
Author: Mike G. Morreale | NHL.com Staff Writer