In today’s Denver Post, Adrian Dater wrote about the maturation of Colorado Avalanche defenseman Shane O’Brien. “From his outgoing nature to his willingness to stand up for a teammate on the ice, O’Brien is considered the epitome of a team guy,” Dater explains. “Which is what makes what happened to him as a member of the Vancouver Canucks seem ironic.”
Having been in Vancouver for the O’Brien era, I can confirm it was ironic. Also, hilarious. (Do a quick Google Image search of “Shane O’Brien party.” It’s a comedic goldmine.)
O’Brien’s party-boy reputation was legendary throughout the city, but it reached its zenith following the 2010 Winter Olympic break. A few days after Sidney Crosby‘s golden goal, O’Brien reported back to the Canucks overweight and was exiled from the team for seven days.
“I guess I slipped up a little bit with that over the Olympic break and that’s not very professional,” O’Brien said at the time. “Obviously they weren’t too happy about it.”
In addition to the weight issue O’Brien also showed up late for a morning workout, leading to this infamous Deadspin post.
Needless to say, the always-compassionate Vancouver media let O’Brien be as he sorted out his life.
Haha, are you kidding me? They killed him.
“You live and learn. Obviously, playing in that hockey market with the media attention they get, it got a little blown out of proportion. But at the same time, I put myself in that situation and definitely learned from it,” O’Brien told Dater. “Looking back on it, maybe they could have done a better job of sweeping it under the rug or maybe protecting me a little bit, but the coach (Alain Vigneault) obviously was trying to send a message. I don’t agree with the way he did it, but he did it the way he wanted to do it.”
O’Brien has managed to put his partying reputation in his rear-view. He spent an incident-free year in Nashville last season (well, aside from when he kept tweeting pictures on the set of Entourage) before signing a one-year deal with the Avs. He’s turned into a favorite of head coach Joe Sacco’s and endeared himself to teammates by fighting Andy Sutton after Sutton delivered a headshot to rookie Gabriel Landeskog.
“I told him thanks, that I appreciated it,” Landeskog said. “Those are the things that build team chemistry.”
O’Brien’s always been good at building chemistry with teammates. It’s just that now, it seems like he’s trying to build it on the ice — rather than the VIP section of the Boom Boom Room.