Being named an alternate captain was a little bit unexpected for Tampa Bay Lightning's Eric Brewer, but for the rest of the coaching staff it was an opportunity to recognize the defenseman for what he has consistently brought to the team.
"He's been very vocal and leads by example," Victor Hedman said. "He's the first guy here every day and works hard at every practice and in every game."
"You carry that kind of tag with you on the ice and couple that with the fact that he's a professional in the true sense of the word," head coach Jon Cooper said. "When he speaks, guys listen."
This year Brewer's minutes were cut from 23-24 per night to a little under 20 a game. The result has been more dependable play on the backend.
"His game has excelled because of that," Cooper said.
It has also helped him be a role model for a young Lightning blue line and a chance for them to witness that building your game never ceases.
"We see it," associate coach Rick Bowness said. "Now his teammates are well aware of it too."
Brewer was the named captain of the St. Louis Blues during the 2007-08 season and won a Gold Medal with Team Canada in the 2002 Winter Games.
IT'S ALL ABOUT HOW YOU HANDLE IT
It is no surprise that after having solid third periods during the first half of the seasons the Bolts have faltered there as of late.
Brewer said defensive pairs and linemates must keep the communication coming to make sure mistakes can be fixed at a faster rate.
"We need to be able to say, 'hey we need to make this type of play, not the play we just made'," Brewer said. "The more of that we have the less time we'll be wondering what we should or shouldn't be doing on the ice."
Though it has happened in a handful of games, losing the lead is something that every team faces. Tampa Bay cannot let the fact that it has occurred at what Cooper called an "alarming rate" loom over their heads.
"We know it's happened," Cooper said. "We need to make sure we stay positive about everything that's gone on and just control what we can control."
With a Coyotes team that gave up a two-goal lead in the final 10 minutes of play in their last game, Monday may be the opportunity to follow Brewer's lead and finally gain control in the final 20.
Blueliner Radko Gudas (lower body) participated in Monday's skate sporting a regular practice jersey. He had worn a red, no-contact jersey last Friday.
Although he will not be back tonight, Gudas said they are now aiming for him to be in the lineup Thursday.
He will continue to skate the next two days regardless if the Bolts opt to take one of their two days in between games off.
OTHER ODDS 'N ENDS
Ben Bishop left the ice first this morning for Tampa Bay and will start Monday versus the Coyotes.
Steven Stamkos did not participate in morning skate. He will play tonight; taking a little extra rest was always part of the plan upon his return. Pretty much everything but games will be optional for him the rest of the way.
Phoenix netminder Mike Smith was part of the Bolts organization from the 2007-08 season to the 2010-11 season, appearing in 118 games for the Lightning. During the 2010-11 campaign he also was between the pipes in five games with the Cooper-coached Norfolk Admirals (AHL).
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