Brotherhood and Hockey
Written by: Megan Youngblood
‘Feels like home’: The Delaney brothers bring a sense of home to Michigan.
Being four years apart, brothers Thomas (TJ) and Tim Delaney never had the chance to play on the same team together, up until now.
“This is our first competitive season together,” said older brother TJ Delaney. “We’ve skated in the summers together obviously and shooting pucks in the basement and practicing at home, but this is our first official season together.”
Before the brothers became teammates and got to wear the same jersey for the first time, it was TJ who gave the brothers something to bond over.
“I started skating at four years old,” TJ said. “And right around that is when I started learn to play.”
Being the younger brother, Tim wanted to be just like TJ and started skating the first chance that he could.
“I started skating roughly when I was two or three,” Tim said. “And then I started playing a little bit after that. Definitely because of him.”
While it was TJ that started playing hockey and inspired younger brother Tim to play it was Tim that brought TJ to Michigan to be a part of the Motor City Rockers.
“I came here first,” Tim said. “And about a month into the year, TJ was looking for a place to play so I don't want to say I recruited him but I definitely pulled some strings.”
Getting a chance to not only continue his hockey career but do it with his brother was a thrilling chance for TJ.
“I was really excited,” he said. “I’ve never had the chance to play with him before and it’s nice to have your brother around.”
TJ wasn’t the only one who was excited to be playing on the same team as his brother.
“My parents wanted him to kind of do his own thing and make sure I wasn’t intruding on that but also, I think they’re happy that I’m here to not look after him but be here for him.”
Hailing from St Louis Missouri means moving away from family and having each other puts their mom's mind at ease, specifically when it comes to mom’s favorite Tim (according to TJ).
“They like knowing we’re here for each other,” TJ said. “He (Tim) is the baby, so my mom likes knowing that even though I don’t do anything to take care of him quote unquote that I’m here. It helps my mom sleep better at night.”
Coming to a new team, especially in a new state can be hard. For TJ coming in a month after Tim who had already made friends and built connections settled his nerves but was also different to experience.
“It was cool to come in and see the guys that he made friends with and the bonds that he was already creating without me,” TJ said. “I kind of just joined in and became friends with those guys. It was a fun and an interesting experience because I’ve never had that. He always tagged along with my friends and now it’s the other way around.”
Pushing each other
Keeping mom happy and content is a good feeling but it’s the two brothers that are most thankful to be playing with each other (for the most part).
“There’s always highs and lows to the season,” TJ said. “And it’s nice to have your brother around when you’re experiencing some lows, you’re not playing as well or whatever. It’s nice to have him around but there’s times where we get on each other and we really push each other.”
For Tim, having his big brother on the same team as him gives him a different drive compared to others.
“Motivational-wise, when he gets on me it pushes me a lot harder,” Tim said. “I like to see him do well because obviously I’m rooting for him and seeing him do well pushes me a lot harder. He’s my brother but I’m like damn I want to be like him.”
Both brothers welcome the criticism and tips to better their game from each other and have found a good balance of when and when not to give it.
“TJ definitely knows when I need to be talked to or what to be told,” Tim said. “And he knows most of the time when to leave me alone, just from growing up together. We kind of know how to push each other’s buttons and stuff. It definitely helps me when he does so I’m kind of grateful for that.”
While both brothers push and root for each other, they are still competitive and want to be the better and best Delaney.
“I definitely want to be better than him,” TJ said. “And I would expect him to want to be better than me. There’s plenty of things that he’s better than me and I’m sure it goes the other way around too.”
“Yeah definitely,” Tim agreed, chuckling.
Both TJ and Tim model their game after each other and look to each other for encouragement but some differences come along.
“There’s definitely stuff in the summer we work on together, but obviously we’re two extremely different players,” Tim said, “I’m a defenseman mainly and he’s a forward so I think we have different strengths. He’s a righty and I’m a lefty but there’s skills that I try to model after him.”
When it comes to being on the ice, TJ finds himself in trouble a lot more and spends more time in the penalty box as compared to Tim.
“I tend to get in more trouble,” TJ said. “Just stupid stuff sometimes but I definitely have way more penalty minutes.”
Other differences come off the ice.
“I like to take a shower before the games, a warm shower and just hang out, maybe a little meditation before every game.” TJ said
Tim’s pregame preparation is a little bit different compared to his big brothers.
“I like to take a cold shower and a nap roughly around the same time or length of time but once I get to the rink I’m just trying to focus on the game.” Tim said.
While the two brothers have grown up together and lived together for most of their lives, being able to spend every day together at the rink is a new experience.
“In a literal sense we don’t fight nearly as much anymore,” TJ said. ‘We take each other seriously and we push each other. As far as hockey goes, I’ve never gone to the rink and seen him every day, so I’ve learned a lot about him and I’m sure I’m going to continue to learn more about him and stuff that I haven’t had the chance to learn just sitting at home growing up within that sense”
Playing and living together has grown their relationship in ways living apart wouldn’t.
“He is not annoyed with having me around anymore.” Tim said, to which TJ chuckled.
While TJ doesn’t find Tim being around annoying anymore, they are still brothers and know how to push the right buttons.
“We live together and get annoyed when we do everything together,” TJ said. “We definitely get annoyed with each other but we snap out of it pretty quick. I think. He's easily annoyed and I'm easily annoyed. So we know that about each other and try not to push too much.”
Living together and going to the same places means driving together, which is a task taken on by Tim.
“I drive like 90 percent of the time,” Tim said.
With Tim driving, TJ is in charge of music.
“I’m just the music guy,” TJ said. “I play classic rock, some country, definitely some Hip Hop too. A little bit of everything.”
While Tim may be stuck driving most of the time he will deal with it if it means having his brother around.
“It feels a lot like home,” Tim said. “At home, he’s one door down from me and here he’s one door down for me as well. As far as being comfortable it's perfect.”