After 634 games in a Flames uniform, TJ Brodie‘s time with the Calgary Flames has officially come to an end. Although the team would have loved to keep him around for another few seasons, Brodie opted to sign a four year, $20M contract with his hometown Toronto Maple Leafs.
Although there was easily enough space on the Flames’ roster and cap space to retain Brodie, it was most likely in the cards for him to get a fresh start. After last year’s trade with Toronto that fell through, Brodie most likely saw a team in Calgary that viewed him as dispensable while Toronto was one that desperately wanted him.
He has had quite the career with the Flames, and since he is moving on from the club I thought it would be great to take some time and look back at Brodie’s tenure with the Flames which was often underrated.
Selected in the fourth round of the 2008 NHL Entry Draft at #114 overall, Brodie took a few seasons before making the Flames full time. Starting with the club in the 2010-11 season, and of course donning the #66 jersey, Brodie would debut in three games before being sent back down to Abbotsford.
Up and down in the organization due to the lockout and injury replacements, it wouldn’t be until the 2012-13 NHL season where he played with the club full time. It seems as if Brodie has been a fixture on the blue line for so long, you in fact forget that his first full season came just before Johnny Gaudreau‘s debut in the lineup.
His breakout season came in that infamous 2014-15 year when he was called upon to be the #1 defenseman after Mark Giordano went down injured. Scoring 11 goals and adding 30 assists to the fray, Brodie quickly established himself as a top pairing defenseman with the team. Having the ability to play on the right side, despite being a left handed shot, was an indispensable asset to the team.
What was even more impressive was the season after. The Flames acquired Dougie Hamilton in the offseason, and the new defensive prodigy was paired with Giordano for the majority of the season. Brodie still went on to put up a career high in points that season with 45, often playing with the likes of Dennis Wideman and Kris Russell.
During three Dougie filled seasons, Brodie would still put up excellent numbers with his ice time riding at above 23:00 per game. The best thing that happened to him was Hamilton’s departure from the team in the summer of 2018, as this led to easily his best statistical season.
Via Natural Stat Trick, when he was paired once again with Giordano, Brodie put up his highest CF% at 5v5 with 56.0%, even when he started 48.8% of his shifts in the offensive zone. He posted an xGF of 66.1%, which was the highest in his career, while also being a +29 on the season.
Brodie was an absolute star for the Flames, plain and simply.
Brodie has been with the team for so many seasons that his name will be among the top Flames in the team’s history books for some time. During his tenure with the Flames, he raked up 624 games played which puts him at ninth all time on the team, fourth when only looking at defensemen. He has the 15th most all time assists with 218 and sits 24th in points with 266, both of which put him 5th among defensemen.
It’s nothing to call the Hall of Fame about, but for a former fourth round pick who was able to put up these type of numbers for that long is more than impressive. Brodie was, and will be remembered as one of the Flames’ best defensemen in recent years.
What we will miss
There are many things about Brodie as a hockey player, teammate, and person that the Flames organization will deeply miss.
First of all, as previously mentioned, his ability to play on both sides of the ice was extremely valuable for a team that was lacking on the right side. Of course, he often looked more comfortable on his offside than he was on his natural left, but that being said during his time with the Flames he played both and played them well.
The team will also dearly miss his puck handling abilities, as they now don’t really have someone with his capabilities. Brodie was able to skate through the neutral zone with ease, was often jumping into the rush, and has the ability to generate something out of nothing.
In terms of off the ice, I don’t think there has been a player on the team that has been more valuable to on ice success, but at the same time more vilified for his mistakes. Often the subject of so many fans’ vitriol, Brodie not only was able to brush off the hatred being directed towards him, but he also normally responded with consistent and quintessential play.
Every turnover he committed, every defensive miscue, and of course the one time he was called “weak”, Brodie fought through it and never let it bother him. That thick skin will suit him well in Toronto.
Finally, I would be remiss without mentioning his contributions to the Flames Foundation and Flames community. His Skates In Strides program has been by far his crowning achievement in Calgary. As of last year the program had raised $250,000 for Cystic Fibrosis Canada, which is one heck of an accomplishment. His presence at many of the team’s charitable initiatives had a lasting impact on Calgarians and Canadians alike.
So long, partner
Brodie wasn’t the best defender in the NHL, but at times he was the best defender on the Flames. He fought through multiple AHL assignments, criticism, collapsing on the ice at practice, and pretty much anything else that was thrown at him. The team may have lost a top pairing defensemen, but the team, organization, and city has lost one of it’s better people.
Toronto, treat him well.
Thank you for everything TJ!
Photo by: Getty Images