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The Stanley Cup Playoffs are a test of perseverance, and there weren't many players tested more recently than Chicago Blackhawks forward Troy Brouwer(notes), a hero in Chicago's 5-1 victory in Game 6 to eliminate the Vancouver Canucks on Tuesday night.

In the first eight games of the playoffs, he didn't have a goal or assist and was a minus-5. That led to his being a healthy scratch in the Blackhawks' Western Conference semifinal series against the Vancouver Canucks in Games 3, 4 and 5.

The question became unavoidable: Could Brouwer still be an effective player for Chicago with the well-being of his father weighing on his mind?

According to the Vancouver Province, Don Brouwer was rushed to the hospital with a blood clot on his brain on April 4, the same night Troy scored a game-winning goal against the Calgary Flames. He underwent emergency surgery; his son missed the final four games of the regular season to be with his father, who regained consciousness in a hospital as the Blackhawks began their playoff run.

Said Brouwer to The Province, on coping with his father's recovery during the pressure-packed playoffs:

"It is tough," he said. "The first thing I do in the morning is call my mom and ask how my dad is doing. I struggled a little bit early with him and his situation. But now that I've been able to go back and see him, it's kind of given me a little release. I know he's doing well, I know he's on the right path. Just being able to talk to him really helps out a lot."

Brouwer refused to use his father's health as an excuse for his poor play, and had a chance for redemption when Coach Joel Quenneville inserted him into the lineup in Game 6 in Vancouver, where Brouwer was born.

The hunch worked.

Just under 2 minutes into the second period, the play began with a nice breakout pass to Blackhawks forward Patrick Sharp(notes), who saw Troy Brouwer and Marian Hossa(notes) headed towards Roberto Luongo's(notes) net. Brouwer worked hard to get around Vancouver forward Kyle Wellwood(notes); Sharp hit him with a pass and Brouwer tipped it home on a shot that Luongo couldn't glove.

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That made it 1-0 Chicago. Considering the Blackhawks had lost only once in six playoff games in which they scored first, it was enormous -- especially with Kris Versteeg(notes) riding that momentum 36 seconds later with a goal that made it 2-0.

It's understandable to sometimes view professional athletes as characters in an ongoing drama; sports are escapism, after all. For some, Brouwer's playoff disappointment was a collection of troubling zeros in the box score, because box scores don't detail the mental anguish for a 24-year-old guy with an ailing father.

From the Chicago Tribune:

If you wonder why Brouwer, who missed the last four games of the regular season to visit his ailing dad, hasn't looked like the same player in the postseason, that's a good place to start. But Brouwer got a chance to see his dad for the first time in a month last week before Games 3 and 4 and Tuesday night made the old man prouder than ever.

"Hopefully he wasn't too tired and was able to stay up and watch the entire game,'' Brouwer said.

His Game 6 performance was a testament to his perseverance, and, perhaps, a small tribute to a loved one.

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