Capitals fans familiar with Troy Brouwer’s moves on the ice might be surprised to find that when the six-foot-three-inch right wing is not wreaking havoc at the net, he can usually be found at home in Arlington, reading his baby daughter bedtime stories in her pink-and-gray nursery.
Despite his rough-and-tumble line of work—which landed him a 2010 Stanley Cup ring while playing for the Chicago Blackhawks—the 28-year-old Vancouver native is undeniably a family man. After a seven-year courtship, he married his high school sweetheart, Carmen. The two met at age 17 when Troy was playing for Canada’s WHL junior league near her home in Saskatchewan. After he was drafted into the NHL by the Blackhawks in 2004, she earned a business degree in Canada and later joined him in Chicago. The couple married in 2009.
When a 2011 trade landed Troy on the Capitals’ roster, the couple initially rented from a previous player, then purchased a Craftsman-style home a few minutes from Kettler Capitals Iceplex. Designed by architect Thomas French and built by MR Project Management, the new property had everything the Brouwers wanted: an open floor plan; a yard for their two beagles; and a playroom off the main living area for baby Kylie, who was four months old when they moved in last year.
“It definitely feels like we live in the suburbs, but I like that,” says Carmen. “I grew up on a farm so I like the quiet and I like knowing my neighbors.”
She immediately got to work decorating. “Troy’s style is very simple,” she says. “He likes things comfortable—and almost no patterns. Plus, everything had to be kid-friendly, dog-friendly and spill-proof.” Carmen furnished the house in a chic, eclectic style with a palette of soft grays, making regular forays to Arhaus, Pottery Barn and Restoration Hardware.
“When I was on the road, Carmen would send me pictures of things she wanted to buy,” Troy recalls. “Really quickly, she made it feel like home.”
A charming front porch welcomes guests into the house. A formal living room and dining room flank the entryway, which leads into an open family room and kitchen. The basement level houses a guest room, a home theater and a wine cellar built by Carmen’s father over the holidays. Upstairs are a master suite, a nursery and two guest bedrooms.
The Brouwers love to entertain in their new home. In October, Troy’s family visited for Canadian Thanksgiving and Kylie’s first birthday. “Everyone was able to fit comfortably and enjoy the time together,” he reflects. “The thing I don’t like about playing hockey is that we’re so far away from our families. We want people to visit and feel comfortable, plus we want to have room to hopefully expand the family at some point.”
The Brouwer residence has also been a magnet for Caps players—including neighbors Nicklas Backstrom and Eric Fehr—along with their significant others. “We had a bunch of players over for American Thanksgiving,” says Troy. “The guys were downstairs watching football and the girls were upstairs talking about whatever girls talk about. We’ve also had some good board game nights, with girl-versus-boy battles.”
Despite busy schedules, the Brouwers make time to serve the community. Troy recently planted flowers and painted murals on D.C. Public Schools Beautification Day. “Especially with a new daughter, you want learning environments to be as friendly and inviting as possible,” he explains. And Carmen has teamed up with other spouses to support local animal shelters with the Capitals Canine Calendar, which features photos of players posing with their pets and/or rescue dogs. (The 2014 edition is available through February at capitals.nhl.com).
The only current Caps player to have hoisted a Stanley Cup, Troy remains upbeat about the 2014 season. “The ultimate goal is to win the Cup. Before that, we have smaller goals. Making the playoffs is one.”
Winning a Stanley Cup, he adds, “is a special group to be in. All I want is for my teammates to be in that same group.”
After grueling practices and games, the couple’s home provides a refuge for Troy. “Coming home from the road, it’s a relaxing sanctuary,” he admits. “My favorite time of the day is when I put Kylie to bed. It’s probably the only time when she stays in one spot for more than 20 seconds. I don’t worry about hockey. I just love being with my family.”
Photographer Bob Narod is based in Herndon, Virginia.