Brule had a good 2005 training camp and was signed a contract with the Columbus Blue Jackets Oct. 3. Just six days later he suffered a clavicle injury that kept him out of the lineup for 18 games. His first game back from the injury, he scored his first NHL goal against the Phoenix Coyotes and he’d play four more games before more bad luck befell the native of Edmonton, Alberta when he broke his leg. The first round draft pick finished with two goals and two assists in seven NHL games.
Once he returned from that injury, Brule was returned to the Vancouver Giants of the WHL, a team he led in scoring in 2004-05. In just 27 games he had 38 points and he had 16 goals and 14 assists in 18 Giants’ playoff games resulting in him being named the WHL Playoff MVP.
“He’s one of those special guys, he can make that type of difference with his grit or with his skill,” Giants coach Don Hay told Hockey’s Future this week at the MasterCard Memorial Cup.
So far through the round robin and tie breaker game, Brule is leading all scorers by a wide margin with five goals and six assists in four games. His best game came today when he scored two goals and added three assists, all on the power play, as his Giants eliminated the Peterborough Petes in a 6-0 blowout. Brule’s five points in one game was just one shy of tying the Memorial Cup record for points in a single game.
Hockey’s Future had a chance to speak with Gilbert Brule on Sunday, the day after the Giants’ first game against the Moncton Wildcats.
HF: At the start of the season with Columbus, the injuries you had, how did you turn it around coming back here and how did you deal with the disappointment at first coming back to Vancouver?
GB: Yeah, it was obviously rough going through those two injuries and it was kind of, you know, making your dream and then it’s a hard battle when you go through those two injuries. But I was so positive coming back here because I knew I was coming back to such a good team and I think we’ve proven that all year. I hope we continue that in the Memorial Cup.
HF: Did you find things hadn’t changed much here for you since last year? Did you settle back in quickly?
GB: Yeah, there wasn’t much of a difference. I knew most of the guys from camp and everything and they knew me and knew what I was like so I fit right in.
HF: What did Columbus say to you when you left, like this is a good thing for you to go back to the WHL, get some experience there?
GB: Yeah they sent me back so I’d get lots of playing time and I came back and got to play a ton and played so much in the playoffs it was great for me and my conditioning.
HF: A lot of people say the Giants’ offense is you and then after that there is a big drop off, what would you say to that?
GB: I’d say that’s not true. I know my line is very offensive but we have another line and Tim Kraus’ line that can score too, and Michal Repik, and they’re a good line too and they provide quite a bit of offense for us as well.
HF: How have you found the tournament so far? The first game you guys played well and were physical, what do you think happened there last night (the Giants lost 3-2 to Wildcats)?
GB: We had a great start to the game, I don’t think you can ask for a better start than we had. We kept them to two shots in 20 minutes and that was great. We came out and got the first goal and took the crowd out of it, but the second period was rough because we started to get into penalty trouble and guys started to getting tired because you’re killing penalties all period.
HF: Do you feel Moncton was targeting you a little bit or no?
GB: No, I don’t think they were at all. They were just playing their game and we were playing our game and that was basically it.
HF: Now with the amount of injury trouble you had this year do you still feel developed well during the year to be better for next year?
GB: Yeah definitely. I learned so much when I was down in Columbus and I learned a lot about working and how hard those guys in the NHL work to be there and stay there because it’s a job there. I learned so much and it’s just great coming back here and showing that here.
HF: Skill-wise, did you feel like you fit right in there?
GB: Yeah there’s a lot of skill guys there and some guys who are great players and I just wanted to keep up and play well and do the best I could up there.
HF: Was there anyone there in particular who helped you out or who talked you through things?
GB: Well I lived with Luke Richardson and he was great to me. I just saw how hard he worked on and off the ice and just how great of a guy he was and a good leader. He’s an inspiration to me, and guys like [Sergei] Fedorov and Adam Foote who helped me with little things in practice and games were great.
HF: And here in Vancouver you’re obviously a leader. Have you taken what they taught you and brought it back here?
GB: Yeah definitely. When I went down there I got a lot more confidence. Just being around those guys that are pro players that I watched growing up. Coming back here was nice just being a vocal guy more this year than last year.
HF: What are you going to work on in the offseason?
GB: Obviously I want to put on weight. My size is a certain thing I need to work on but I need to work on my conditioning and just get stronger for next season.
HF: But did you find the rule changes meant that size maybe wasn’t as important?
GB: Yeah, the new rule changes [mean] guys have to use their speed more and that’s one thing I’m going to work on for the rest of my career.
HF: And in faceoffs, I noticed yesterday you were dominant in the circle. Is that one of your top skills would you say?
GB: I don’t know. I think last year I wasn’t as good as this year in faceoffs. I think when I went down to Columbus I learned a lot from the centermen we had there and they taught me a few tricks and they’re helping me out here.
Kevin Forbes contributed to this article. Copyright 2006 Hockey’s Future. Do not reprint or otherwise duplicate without permission of the editorial staff.