Last Thursday, the San Jose Sharks announced the signing of University of Minnesota defenseman Michael Brodzinski to an entry-level deal. The 20-year-old made his AHL debut for the Barracuda just two days later. At the same time, right winger Jonny Brodzinski was enjoying a revelatory weekend for the Ontario Reign, racking up 17 shots on goal (and scoring a couple) over two games.
The Brodzinskis, selected seven picks apart in the fifth round of the 2013 NHL Draft, are set to clash in San Jose tonight for their very first AHL meet-up. I spoke recently with the 22-year-old Jonny about this imminent "Brodzinski Bowl."
And as a special bonus, their mother Kathy e-mailed me some thoughts too!
Jewels from the Crown: Give us a scouting report for your younger brother Michael. What's his strong suit? What does he need to work on?
Jonny Brodzinski: His strongest part is his shot. His offensive ability as a defenseman. His defensive game has really improved throughout college. That's something he's really grown into. That wasn't one of his stronger [assets] because as he was growing up, he was always a forward. He switched to defense at around bantams, high school. But he's a very offensive defenseman.
JFTC: Both of you are known for your shot then. Is that something you guys worked on together when you were younger?
JB: Yeah. I got three younger brothers. [Easton is] going to St. Cloud State. [Bryce is] coming up through high school now. My Dad [coached all of us] growing up in Blaine. All four of us would be at each others' practices. The guys whose practice it wasn't, all three of the other brothers would be down at the other corner, doing one-timers and shooting pucks, just messing around.
JFTC: The Brodzinski shooting factory?
JFTC: Going further back, was the worst injury that you ever gave Michael the time you "kicked him off a chair" as toddlers?
JB: Yeah, that was the one. He's still got that scar on top of his head.
Kathy Brodzinski: I remember it like it was yesterday. Jonny was standing on the chair and said, "Come here, Michael!" He jumped off the chair, did a karate kick...Michael did a full circle and hit his head on the corner of the wall. With blood coming down between Michael’s eyes, [their father] Mike yelled, "JONNY!" Jonny replied calmly..."What, Dad? He’s gotta get tougher." No stitches were needed in that incident!
JFTC: And what's the worst injury that he gave you?
JB: Oh, geez. He's probably pushed me out of a golf cart or something stupid like that. We lived in a golf course when we were younger, so we golfed a lot, so that was probably one of the worst ones.
JFTC: Speaking of golf, I've read that you and Michael have a bit of a rivalry in that sport. What else do you guys compete at besides golf and hockey?
JB: It's everything. It's fishing. Who can catch the most fish? It's on the golf course, who can shoot the lowest round. I mean, it's really everything. The Brodzinski family is extremely competitive.
JFTC: Who's the best golfer in the Brodzinski family?
JB: Me and Michael are pretty close when it comes to summer golf. My Dad can hack 'em too, that's for sure.
JFTC: And who's the best fisherman?
JB: I'll probably have to say my Dad on that one. Michael's a close second.
JFTC: Before your first college match-up against Michael, you mentioned that your dad dressed in Minnesota gear, while your mom sported St. Cloud State colors. Is that how it'll work on Wednesday, your dad representing San Jose, your mom supporting Ontario?
JB: In college, they actually bought a St. Cloud jersey and a Gophers jersey and cut it in half. Sewed it together with the "Brodzinski" in the back. So that was pretty cool. But yeah, I don't know how it's going to go now. We'll have to see.
KB: We’ll do the combo thing again. We don’t have a ton of San Jose gear...yet. I just looked over at Mike, and he’s wearing a San Jose hat and LA Kings t-shirt. We’ll make sure we have it covered one way or another!
JFTC: So how about Easton and Bryce? Who will they be pulling a little more for?
JB: Easton's got a bunch of Reign gear. I bought it for Christmas.
JFTC: So you got a head start on him?
JB: Yeah, exactly.
JFTC: Now Michael has a 3-1 lead in the "Brodzinski Bowl," at least in terms of college head-to-heads. You guys ever play each other before that?
JB: There were a few elite programs and stuff like that throughout high school, where he was on a different team than I was. But other than that, we've been pretty much on the same team our entire life. Obviously, in college, he played on kind of our rival team. Now, obviously, another rival team.
JFTC: Did you record the results of these high school games?
JB: No, not at all.
JFTC: So officially, it's 3-1 Michael now, right?
JFTC: Finally, I wanted to ask you about Herb Brooks, who had a profound impact on your dad's life (JFTC note: Mike Brodzinski captained Coach Brooks's St. Cloud State team in 1986-87). What has your Dad told you about Brooks?
JB: I mean, obviously, he was just a great human, above everything else. I wish he could've been around for me to meet him a little bit more and be under his tutelage. But just the things I've heard about him from my Dad, those two were both great friends. And he's got nothing but great things to say about him as a coach and as a guy.
JFTC: Did you ever meet Herb?
JB: It was when I was younger. A lot younger. It was probably when I was about 9 or 10. So, don't really remember it...
Kathy added this note for both of her boys.
KB: They’ve been through it before. Hopefully, they can both have great games! P.S. Tell them Mom says to play nice.