Sometimes a hockey
player's career doesn't quite go as planned.
Rob Brown may have played in the National Hockey League for 13 seasons for 5 different teams, as well as had a memorable minor-league career, but in the grand scheme of things he may only be remembered by most fans for his 1988-89 season with the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Rob Brown was born in Kingston, Ontario on April 10th, 1968 and by 1983 was playing in the Canadian junior hockey program. Through 4 seasons of junior hockey with the Kamloops Blazers of the Western Hockey League (WHL) he posted some good numbers and managed to catch the eye of scouts in his 4th year with a final tally of 76 goals and 136 assists for a total of 212 points in 63 games played.
While those numbers are indeed gaudy Brown was only drafted 67th Overall in the 1986 NHL Entry Draft by the Pittsburgh Penguins, drafted ahead of such notable names as goalie Ron Tugnutt (81st) and center Darren Turcotte (114th). In his rookie season of 1987-88 he managed to post a respectable 24 goals and 20 assists in 51 games.
It was in the following season of 1988-89 though that Brown's career and game seemed to come together. Playing right wing on a line with Mario Lemieux as his center, Brown put up an astonishing 49 goals and 66 assists, for a total of 115 points in only 68 games. Putting up such numbers in only one's second season in the NHL surely was a sign of great things to come.
Unfortunately it didn't quite work out that way for Brown. In the following 1989-90 season he did put up 80 points in 80 games, but by 1990-91 he was traded to the Hartford Whalers and only managed 58 points in 69 games. Halfway through the next season Brown then landed with the Chicago Blackhawks where he began splitting time between the NHL and minor-league International Hockey League (IHL) with the Indianapolis Ice, and from 1992 to 1997 Brown played mainly for IHL teams, occasionally being called up to the NHL for a few games every season. In 1993-94 he did lead the IHL in scoring as a member of the Kalamazoo Wings with 42 goals and 113 assists for 155 points in 79 games and was named IHL MVP, and people once again wondered if he would finally land solidly in the NHL again.
Brown still spent the next 3 seasons mainly in the IHL though, posting over 100 points each season while playing for the Phoenix Roadrunners and Chicago Wolves.
Finally in 1997-98, Brown once again found himself where his career began: with the Pittsburgh Penguins where he played for 3 seasons until 2000, but never putting up more than 40 points in a season. He then spent 3 more final seasons with the Chicago Wolves in the minors before retiring after the 2002-03 season.
In total, Rob Brown amassed 190 goals and 248 assists for 438 points in 543 NHL games in his career, which really isn't all that bad of a career. In fact, he's still at the time of this writing 11th all-time on the Penguins' career list for Goals Scored (150). Brown also was a 3-time winner of the Leo Lamoureux Memorial Trophy awarded to the IHL's leading scorer for the regular season (1994,1996,1997), and aformentioned 1994 winner of the James Gatschene Memorial Trophy as the IHL's Most Valuable Player.
However his name has unfortunately become synoymous in some hockey circles as a "one-hit wonder". The term "Rob Brown Phenomenon" is now sometimes used to describe any hockey player who has one spectacular season due mainly to the player or players that he plays with on his line (in Brown's case, playing on the wing of all-time great Mario Lemieux).
The Internet Hockey Database - http://www.hockeydb.com/ihdb/stats/pdisplay.php3?pid=619
Offical Pittsburgh Penguins Site - http://www.pittsburghpenguins.com/history/leaders.php