Boston Bruins winger Jake DeBrusk admitted he wasn’t sure he would be in the lineup for the Bruins’ 3-2 overtime win over the Montreal Canadiens at the Bell Centre Monday night, but he’s happy he was and he’s looking forward to hopefully helping the Boston Bruins make a Stanley Cup run this spring.
To the surprise of Jake DeBrusk and many around the NHL, the Bruins signed him to a two-year, $8 million contract extension and did not trade the 25-year-old winger before the 3 PM ET NHL Trade Deadline on Monday. After the win, and close to seven hours later, DeBrusk admitted that the uncertainty of the last four months has weighed on him.
“It was definitely a difficult day; a difficult week,” the still Boston Bruins winger replied when asked if he thought he would be part of the Bruins’ first game in Montreal since November 26, 2019. “It was one of those things – like I said, it was a difficult week – where there’s a lot of uncertainty and you don’t really know. I think that’s the one thing I’ve taken away from it past 4 PM [Monday] is I haven’t felt clarity in three months. I haven’t known if I’m gonna go, where I’m gonna go, or any of that kind of stuff. So now I know, and it’s nice to kind of have that done with.”
DeBrusk, who went pointless and finished the game a minus 1 with five shots, one hit and two giveaways in 16:15, said that the whole experience of not knowing if he’d be playing for the Boston Bruins each day taught him a lot about himself and life.
“It tests you,” DeBrusk replied when asked if he had learned any lessons. “I’ve had – well obviously the last two years of my personal life or just life in general – obviously with COVID and everything, it’s been a whirlwind, to say the least, and I think that it brought out some good things in me and some bad things. There were some tough days and there were good days and you know, I just took it shift-by-shift and day-by-day.”
As he and his teammates have stressed throughout the last four months, this odd and sometimes uncomfortable situation did not have a negative influence on the ice and won’t going forward.
“I don’t look at it as a negative situation,” DeBrusk replied. “Anytime you can play for a team that has a chance to win a Stanley Cup, it’s a positive and that’s why we play the game is to win the Stanley Cup. I’m comfortable with these guys; I grew up with this team, was drafted by them and it’s one of those things where it kind of hits ya in a sense, but it hits you in the right way. Obviously, I’m playing on a very good line at the moment and I’ll do anything I can to stay there and help the team win. Like I said, it’s all about winning the Stanley Cup at this point and I think anybody can get behind that.”
Earlier in the day, Boston Bruins general manager Don Sweeney shared the same sentiments and similar observations.
“I think this really puts some clarity for Jake in the sense that he doesn’t have any trade protection so we could’ve moved him prior to the deadline, we could revisit in the summertime,” Sweeney said earlier on Monday after the deadline passed without DeBrusk being dealt. “He could also go forward most importantly with just playing hockey and realizing that he’s a big part of our team. He’s gone in and played well with [Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand]. Hopefully we’re going to have that when Bergy gets back.
We’re going to need Jake. We feel that he’s an important part of our hockey club. We wanted him to feel that way. It also sends a message to the rest of everyone that had, there’s clarity there in moving forward if we were going to explore something. Didn’t really mean today at all, just means moving forward. The impact that he can have on our hockey club, we believe in.”
As for why he didn’t trade DeBrusk or if he was even close, the Boston Bruins GM had this to say:
“I’ve been having discussions on Jake for months. Today wasn’t any different in terms of where teams thought he fit into their group and what they were trying to do,” Sweeney acknowledged. “Some teams were down the road on other things, and we’ll pivot back maybe. But it doesn’t really matter at this point. Like I said, sent a clear message to Jake and he sent one to us, that he just wants to play hockey. Bottom line is he knows he’s an important part if he plays to his capabilities, he’s going to help us and help himself.”