For most young hockey fans, dreaming about a chance to meet their favourite NHL stars is commonplace.
For Brendan Brisson, meeting them was simply the norm.
The Chicago Steel forward is the son of agent Pat Brisson, who represents some of the NHL’s elite like Sidney Crosby, Nathan MacKinnon, Patrick Kane, John Tavares, and many, many more.
“Growing up, he was just simply my dad,” said Brendan, eligible for the 2020 NHL Draft. “When I was younger, like in elementary school, people would ask ‘what does your dad do?’ I didn’t even know he was a hockey agent. I would say he’s a ‘Super-Agent’, thinking he was doing some secret stuff.
“When I came to an age where I realized that this wasn’t really normal, like shooting pucks with Nathan MacKinnon or Sidney Crosby, was when I started to grow up a little bit.”
Being around that environment has paid off for Brendan, No. 79 in Future Considerations’ Spring ranking for the 2020 draft.
“Just seeing now how much that impacted my development as a player,” Brendan said. “Being around those players, seeing how seriously they take the game, all the stuff they were doing to literally dominate at the highest level was something super special to me.”
Despite the busy schedule of being an NHL ‘Super-Agent,’ Pat made sure that he was there for his children. While Brendan had NHL stars around him, the commitment from his dad really stood out.
“With his busy schedule, working all day and then somehow finding time to drive an hour from his office to the rink to watch my brother and I skate,” he said. “Even if it was a 30-minute clinic, he was always there giving us his best support, no matter how much he had with work. He always found time to make it to the rink and to work around mine and my brother’s schedule.”
On top of his father simply being there when in matters, the University of Michigan commit had the benefit of having someone with insight into the industry.
“I think every parent has helped their kid at some point to help them figure out what they want to do with their life,” Brendan said. “My dad, just being what he is in the business, being able to go to him and get advice from the best in the game, is something I’ve very grateful for and I’ve for sure used to my advantage.”
He’s also had a lifetime supply of advice from his father, which Brendan has followed throughout his hockey career and will continue to do so moving forward.
“He’s always given me the same advice,” Brisson said. “Just keep playing. Your passion for the game is going to keep driving you, keep working at it and one day it’s going to pay off. Once I grew a little bit, the game started becoming easier for me, I got to that level where I was playing better and playing against better opponents, it was just keep going. Have the right mindset every time you step on to the ice to get better and good things are going to happen.”
Of course, with some of the best hockey players in the world around you growing up, there’s bound to be a few memories that stick.
Brendan has no shortage.
“I remember when Nathan MacKinnon stayed at our house in his rookie season for about a week in the summer,” Brisson said. “Just seeing him shoot the puck, I was so scared that I was watching from a window. He was shooting it and it was coming back at me at full speed.
“He would hit the net and it would shoot back towards me. It was crazy to watch. He was shooting pucks two to three hours every day and this was on top of on-ice and off-ice sessions. I was just seeing him push himself to the highest level.
“And John Tavares, when I was a bit younger, I was always seeing him drink these protein shakes, so it became a thing around my house where I always wanted a John Tavares Shake.”
Now, Brendan is looking to join those players he grew up with on the NHL ice.
The center looks to be in a good position after collecting 59 points (24 goals, 35 assists) in 45 games with the Steel, and impressing with Team USA in the World Junior A Challenge with 12 points (five goals, seven assists) in six games.
“I have a sense where I think I should get drafted,” he said. “I’m confident in myself and that I had a really good year. I think that should speak for itself.”
And while he isn’t holding any expectations heading into the draft, the idea of hearing his named called — whenever it should happen to come — would be something very special.
Especially if it is still to come in Montreal.
“It’s kind of exciting,” Brendan said. “Having a French-Canadian background, my dad’s whole family is in Montreal, so hopefully the draft can still happen there. If you would have asked me this three years ago, I would have said there’s no way I’m going to be at the draft in Montreal, let alone being up for the draft at all.”
On the brink of being drafted, Brisson isn’t just getting a chance to meet NHL stars that kids dream about, he’s getting a chance to see old friends as he takes the next step in his hockey journey.
“It’s kind of cool to see how far I’ve come,” he said.
“I’m just excited to keep going and keep getting better.”