Former Blackhawks D Brent Sopel keeps dream alive in Chicago

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Brent Sopel, Chicago Wolves

Courtesy of the Chicago Wolves

Brent Sopel is playing hockey again in Chicago. It isn’t with the obvious team, either. The Calgary, Alberta native officially signed with the Chicago Wolves on October 10, and has played in each of the team’s first four games. After a three year stint in the Kontinental Hockey League, Sopel decided it was time to return to North America.

The 37-year old Sopel is now in his 19th season of professional hockey. He was drafted 144th overall by the Vancouver Canucks in the 1995 NHL Entry Draft. Sopel has played for six NHL teams, including the 2010 Stanley Cup Champion Chicago Blackhawks. By that point in his career, he was not looked at to carry a defensive corps like he was earlier in his career. Regardless, Brent Sopel did what was asked of him and became a fan-favorite.

Sopel continues to do what is asked of him by Chicago Wolves head coach John Anderson.

“Whatever the coaches want, he jumps on board and that really helps me and the coaching staff to help convince [the younger players],” said Anderson. “When your older leader guys are doing all the grunt stuff, too. You can’t help but follow.”

Buying in to what the Chicago Wolves was something that Brent found fairly easy to do.

“We’ve got some really good players, some really great guys in the dressing room,” said Sopel.

Coach Anderson also has given Sopel full trust on the ice. Through four games, he has seen time on the power play and penalty kill besides normal 5-on-5 duties.

Many may not know that Brent Sopel was one decision away from hanging up the skates. You may have heard him on Chicago sports talk radio. His work earned positive reviews, but hockey was still on his mind. “This opportunity came up and I was exploring some other opportunities,” said Sopel.

“It was just being able to come home and play in the city where I live and where my kids are. It felt right. There are still opportunities to get involved in some of the other stuff that I planned on doing.”

The Chicago Wolves could be a team to watch as a team that could contend for the Calder Cup. Will the addition of Brent Sopel help direct the team in the right direction?

“He’s in great shape,” said Anderson. “He’s a great team guy, and he seems to make all the little plays that are necessary. I’m really glad that we have him.”

Jeff is a production assistant @120Sports and contributor to hockey, football, and baseball for The Sports Bank. Follow him on Twitter @skcih_ffej.

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