April 23, 2015

Jack Brownschidle

Jack Brownschidle was a savvy defenseman with the St. Louis Blues and Hartford Whalers for over 500 games back in the 1980s. He once held St. Louis team records for assists and points for defensemen.

Jack was born in Buffalo and grew up playing hockey with his brothers, Jeff and Mark who were also drafted by the NHL, with Jeff briefly playing with Hartford, too. Their father John coached them for much of their youth.

While hockey was important in the Brownschidle family, so was education. All three boys went to University. Jack and John both went to Notre Dame, though they were never teammates as Jack was four years older. Mark went to Boston University.

Education was so important to Jack that he passed on a chance to play in the 1976 Olympics in order to graduate with his degree on time. He would have had to commit to the United States national team for the entire season, missing a year of school.

Jack did get a good taste of international action while also patrolling the Notre Dame blue line as a two time All American. while setting several school records. He finished the 1973-74 season with the national team, but did not participate at the World Championships. The experience still helped him improve as a player, and he returned in 1975 and skated in all 10 World Championship games alongside names like Mike Eruzione and Ron Wilson.

You know the United States Olympic team had interested in the skilled defenseman Brownschidle for the 1980 Olympic team that miraculously won the gold medal at Lake Placid. But Brownschidle had graduated from University and jumped to the National Hockey League.

The St. Louis Blues had drafted Brownschidle 99th overall in 1975. He more-or-less jumped right into the Blues lineup, spending just 36 games apprenticing in the minor leagues. He was a full time NHL defenseman by his second year in pro hockey.

He was lauded as an intelligent defender who understood his positioning, allowing him to play an exceptionally clean game. Offensively he was a capable puck mover, though he was quietly appreciated. He set club records (since broken) for assists and points by a defenseman in one season. He even left the Blues as the second highest scoring defenseman in team history. All of this came despite modest totals.

The Blues waived Jack Brownschidle near the end of the 1983-84 season, with the Hartford Whalers acquiring his services. Like his brother before him Jack was used sparingly in Hartford, mostly playing in the minor leagues over the next four seasons.

His final season in pro-hockey was 1987-88 with the Rochester Americans - the closest he ever came to playing at home in Buffalo.

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