Happy hour is never part of the shared experience when the brothers McEwen meet on game day.
In the hours leading up to Saturday's Western Hockey League clash at SaskPlace between Brent's Saskatoon Blades (1-1) and Brad's Swift Current Broncos (2-1), they won't be talking shop over pop.
``No,'' confirms Blades' general manager Brent, the elder by five years. ``And he won't take me out either.''
``Game day is pretty much off limits,'' Broncos' head coach and general manager Brad says with a chuckle. ``We might say hello if we run into each other down in the hallway before the game but that's pretty much the extent of it.''
Realignment sent Swift Current to the Central Division so the brothers are no longer East Division foes. But they will still trade visits seven times this season.
While the Broncos are officially on the other side of the demarcation line, much of their interests remain in the East. Going into tonight's home game with the Medicine Hat Tigers, the Broncos have 21 games remaining against Central opponents compared to 36 versus East squads.
``It creates pretty important games against the Central teams because we don't have a lot of chance to impact our division,'' says Brad. ``We have to make up some points with the Eastern teams.
Meanwhile, the Blades will insert Curtis Yausie, who had been playing with the SJHL's Nipawin Hawks after recovering from mononucleosis, for at least the next four games. With Aaron Starr (hip flexor), Trent Adamus (jaw) and Kyle Harris (concussion) still on the mend, the Blades will dress 11 forwards and seven defencemen.
``When you get down to seven forwards or two lines (as was the case after a line brawl on opening night in Prince Albert), to go the whole game like that is virtually impossible,'' says Brent McEwen. ``But if you've got three lines, you can do it. (Having 11 forwards) allows for injuries and it allows for a guy getting kicked out.''
The Blades, who face a stretch of five games in seven nights, also plan to pick up 2001 first-round bantam selection Joe Barnes, a Winnipeg native, for Wednesday's game in Brandon.
``Our fans still relate to the Saskatchewan-based teams. It's going to take a while for them to get used to how this whole thing works. It's important for us to still have the Saskatchewan rivals.''
The Broncos have been a plucky opponent in the early going even without two of their top guns. Duncan Milroy (38-54-92) is expected to be returned from the Montreal Canadiens by the weekend but he won't play until next week while recovering from arthroscopic shoulder surgery.
A shoulder injury will also sideline Nathan Smith (28-62-90), who recently returned from Vancouver Canucks camp.
The other Smith brother, 90-point man Tim, has picked up the slack and is tied for the WHL scoring lead with four goals and two assists.
``Those guys can create the offence, no doubt, but we like our depth with guys like Brent Twordik and Benny Ondrus and Matt Sommerfeld,'' says Brad McEwen.
Ian White has pitched in from the point with three goals and three assists.
``He's a great dynamic guy,'' Brad McEwen says. ``He's really picked his play up from exhibition and been a real catalyst back there. He's only 17 but he certainly plays beyond his years, accepts the responsibility and does what he does.''