When the Edmonton Oilers decided to trade away an aging Dave Semenko during the 1986-87 season, they parted ways with one of the best enforcers that played the game and a guy who had the uncanny ability to strike fear in the oppositions heads by using his fists and the art of intimidation. While the Oilers remained a tough team to play, with the likes of Marty McSorley and Kevin McClelland around, they no longer had that deterrent in the lineup to keep teams in line...that all changed on February 7th, 1989.
The Oilers packaged veteran Keith Acton and a sixth round pick in 1991 for arguably the toughest guy in the league in Dave Brown. Never a player that would see a regular shift on a nightly basis, Brown was the same type of enforcer as Semenko but even more lethal. When Dave Brown dropped the mitts, everything else in the arena came to a halt...just ask Jim Kyte.
Dave Brown wasn't an Edmonton Oiler for an extended period of time but he still managed to leave his mark on the organization. While he was a huge fan favourite during his time in Edmonton, he was arguably an even bigger hit amongst his teammates. Be it veterans like Kevin Lowe and Mark Messier or youngsters like Adam Graves and Martin Gelinas, the players held Brownie in the very high regard. They all knew how tough the role of resident heavyweight champion was and they appreciated his efforts more than I think even Brown himself realized.
During his two and half seasons in Edmonton, Brown was a wrecking ball. He took on all comers and demolished one opponent after another and after the rare poor showing...this is what followed:
Brown made the message very clear that no one better mess with any of his teammates or punishment would be swift and very painful. The term "jack hammer" became the norm when Hall of Fame broadcaster Rod Phillips would describe Brown's handy work out on the ice. He was simply dominant at what he did and the team was much more assertive with big number 32 in the lineup.
After being presented with the Stanley Cup in the 1990 final, Mark Messier handed the Cup off to Adam Graves to allow the cup to start making its rounds amongst his teammates. Shortly after the hand off, the captain noticed that Brown, who did not dress in the final game, had made his way down to ice level and was on the Oilers bench. Messier promptly went back into the celebration, took the Cup back and skated it over to the Oilers bench...and placed it directly in Dave Brown's hands. The much loved tough guy was instantly surrounded by all his teammates on the bench and was overcome with emotion. The players reaction was, arguably. even greater then when their captain received the trophy from the commish. While Dave Brown may not have been a crucial performer, when it came to the club bringing home the organizations fifth championship, his presence alone made his teammates march a lot easier and should not be forgotten.
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