Coming to the Coventry Blaze in early February, Chris Bruton has settled in nicely. Now, 4 weeks later he’s ready to discuss the trade and his future with Coventry.
HR: Coming from Calgary, I’d imagine hockey surrounds you from the moment you can understand it. What is your earliest memory of hockey?
I’ve been around the ice since I was small and skating since I could walk. I’d be out with my brothers and Dad on any frozen surface available, ponds, lakes anywhere we could. There’s no shortage of ice in Canada and we made the most of it. After school, we’d grab our skates and gear and we’d meet up with friends and play and it was just what we did.
HR: In your first game with the Blaze, you’d only been with the team for a few days. How did you feel being thrown into the thick of it?
The game is the game, the noise outside is for other players who don’t have enough in their lives to keep them busy. I love the grind, when you come out of the tunnel and the fans are cheering, competing, that’s what it’s all about.
HR: How have you found it settling into a team that was already established?
It’s been a whirlwind. It was tough and mentally exhausting with everything that went on and the quick transition down to Coventry. After the first week I got settled, moved in with my good buddy Kevin Noble and got settled with the school guys. Then it was natural, playing is natural to me. Coventry really wanted to help out with everything that had gone on and everyone has been so welcoming and accommodating to me. Coventry arranged my flights and accommodation so I could still go to school and that was my biggest concern. The transition became pretty seamless after everything was sorted.
HR: There has been talk among fans of late as to the differences in the two conferences. Now you’ve played in both do you find the pace of the game to be different?
It’s tighter down South, the ebb and flow is tighter and there is less space. Up there is still talent and scoring but the rinks are smaller down here and it makes the play a little faster and more competitive. Games are not blow-outs, goals are harder to come by and obviously top teams like Sheffield and Cardiff make the conference that much tougher. I have now played in both so I definitely have first-hand experience and it’s definitely a different style of grind.
HR: How do you like to wind down after a game?
Have a beer and take the time to chill and process everything. If you play well and work hard, you earn your beer.
HR: Does it change if you lose?
The beer doesn’t taste as good!
HR: What’s your biggest professional achievement to date?
Winning the Memorial Cup as Captain in juniors was pretty special. In pro? It was probably getting the contract for the New York Islanders and getting the captain’s C in Bridgeport. Unfortunately I blocked a shot 4 games into the season and shattered my hand so it hampered the season quite a bit. Playing last year in Detroit’s system was really cool because of the depth and class of the organization.
HR: Before coming to the EIHL, had you ever heard of it before? What made you come across to the UK to play?
I was ready to hang it up, I’d fought a lot and I had my education as a back-up so I was at peace with leaving the game. Jobs were hard to come by back home at the time and then the opportunity came up to get a Masters in 8 months and go to Europe and play. I couldn’t pass it up. A couple buddies signed over here and my Father who has always been a large influence on my career said it was a great opportunity and that I shouldn’t pass it up.
HR: What would you do if you stop playing hockey?
I don’t know what I’d do after hockey. I’ve really enjoyed playing this year aside from what we discussed earlier and I’m keeping my options open. Hockey has paid for my education and I feel it’s important to give yourself options. I think I’d travel a lot, go home continuing running my business and look into an array of opportunities.
HR: I’m sure that the Blaze fans who are reading this would love to know; would you stay on in Coventry if they offered you that?
Not ruling out staying in Coventry.
HR: Now I know you don’t want to discuss this situation anymore but I wouldn’t be doing my duties unless I asked How do you feel about the whole Braehead departure now that there has been a cooling period?
Its crazy how it was all made into such a production and how childish and amateur the whole thing got, I didn’t listen to anything I just don’t give my time to that stuff and things that I feel are a waste of time, a few guys mentioned that obviously one individual said some garbage for attention, but not a single other player on that team said a thing so it all falls pretty flat. The organization did a great job of manipulating and fabricating the situation to justify the decision. But everyone behind the scene knew what really went on and I’m pretty sure people saw the lack of integrity and professionalism from the other side and I am happy the way I handled it. I have had a ton of people including opponents that have said great things and respected that you handle situations like this like a pro and with class. So with all the noise and so called controversy I’m more than happy to be done and away from it. Like I said I loved the fans had a great time and it’s over. The individuals involved true colors have been seen and it’s done now and you just move on.
HR: Do you think the trade has been good? Bad? Braehead has not been performing?
Really it’s yet to be seen but I am honestly settled and happy in Coventry and we are battling for a playoff spot and that’s what matters to me now. Coventry has been great to me and the transition was all made easy by the organization, fans and my new teammates. As for the trade in all pro sports all that matters is performance. Plain and simple if a team or player doesn’t perform there is no excuse to hide behind if you don’t. I heard they got hurt and went short well in truth everyone gets hurt in a season its how you sustain a team and get through the tough times that defines a big part of performing for the year. This happens to every team at some point or another in every level and sport. We lost an entire line to team GB and had 7 forwards one of whom was a 15 year old that didn’t play a shift, Chuck was literally grabbing guys and telling them he needed us to get out there, we ended up beating Sheffield. Management and the coaches have done a great job here putting together the most of what we have every night bringing in young and recently we won against #1 and #2 teams. So like I said in pro sports there’s no hiding or excuse making you either got the job done or didn’t, you lived up to expectations or didn’t, your paid to perform. But that’s what you are here for and fans and frankly people way above my pay grade like the owners, they are the ones to speculate and decide at the end.
Feature photo: Aimee Hollingsworth