CK’s TJ Brodie excited to be closer to home

Calgary Flames Defenceman and Chatham-Kent Native TJ Brodie signs autographs at the Canadian Tire in Chatham (Photo by Jake Kislinsky)

An NHL player originally from Chatham-Kent is looking forward to being near home again after signing with the Toronto Maple Leafs.

The Leafs announced on Friday that the club had signed defenceman TJ Brodie, 30, to a four-year, $20 million contract.

Brodie played in 64 games for the Calgary Flames during the 2019-2020 season. He said he was with his wife when it came out on Friday that he’d be moving back closer to home. He then shared the news with a few close friends, who he said were equally as thrilled.

“They’re pretty excited to be closer to home,” he said. “I think they’re pumped that they don’t have to stay up as late to watch games.”

Although there were some other teams interested in Brodie, he said going with the Leafs felt like the right decision.

“At the end of the day, Toronto made the most sense,” said Brodie. “Being close to home and on the east and they’ve got a great team.”

Brodie said he kept the celebration low-key with a small family Thanksgiving gathering. With some uncertainty around the world of sports right now with COVID-19, Brodie said moderation will be key over the next few months.

“I try to approach it similar to the spring when everything got shut down,” he explained. “We didn’t really know then what was going to happen. So you want to stay in shape as much as possible but at the same time you don’t want to burn out and work out really hard for two or three months and by the time the season does come, you’re not feeling great.”

As for what number fans can expect to see alongside the blue and white on the back of Brodie’s jersey, he said he will most likely be representing 78.

“I don’t really have a favourite number,” he said. “We wanted to stick with the seven, seven is obviously retired with Tim Horton. I was 79 in Saginaw at one point, we wanted to change it up, do something new and 78 made sense.”