With one foot seemingly out the door, Jake DeBrusk didn’t want to become a distraction.
The fifth-year Bruins forward asked for a trade from Boston heading into the 2021-22 campaign. DeBrusk’s request became public shortly after embarking on another stint in the press box during Boston’s Thanksgiving weekend matchup with the Vancouver Canucks.
DeBrusk addressed his teammates shortly after his request went viral on social media. He didn’t speak to the media for another few months. But DeBrusk’s teammates and head coach repeatedly came to his aid addressing his professionalism amid an awkward situation.
DeBrusk’s trade request didn’t come to fruition. Yet, he earned a two-year contract extension with his improved effort and recent scoring uptick, resulting in a promotion to the top line with Brad Marchand and Patrice Bergeron.
The 2015 first-round selection now hopes to stay with Bergeron and Marchand heading into the playoffs. His short-term goal doesn’t involve plans for a potential new destination. Instead, he views his dilemma within the organization as a positive one.
“I don’t look at it in a negative situation,” DeBrusk said following the B’s 3-2 overtime win in Montreal. “Any time that you can play for a team that has a chance to win the Stanley Cup, it’s a positive. That’s why I play the game, to win the Stanley Cup. I’m comfortable with these guys. I grew up with this team and was drafted by them. It’s one of those things where it kind of hits you a little bit, but it hits you in the right way. 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. It’s about winning the Stanley Cup at this point, and I think anybody can get behind that.”
The Bruins also want to get behind DeBrusk. The Edmonton-born winger has helped his own cause in that development.
Indeed, Bruce Cassidy and the coaching staff want to see a little more production from his recent March stretch. Even with just a goal and an assist in his last 10 games following his first career hat trick on Feb. 28 in Los Angeles, the Bruins feel DeBrusk’s game has progressed during his time on top-line duty.
DeBrusk struggled when he moved to his off-wing last season. The Bruins kept DeBrusk on his strong side wing for the first few months of the 2021-22 campaign — primarily as a third liner — before moving him to right-wing with Bergeron and Marchand.
Boston’s dynamic duo now have a complimentary piece on their top line. DeBrusk’s speed and aggressive puck pursuit in all three zones have meshed well with Marchand’s crafty playmaking skillset and Bergeron’s two-way traits.
“Any time you have a new guy or a new linemate, you’ve got to work on chemistry, and you have to communicate a lot. And I think we’ve been able to do that as a line,” Bergeron said in his first practice following a three-game absence to heal an infection on his elbow. “He’s playing at his off-wing, so it’s an adjustment there. We’ve talked a lot to him about the way we wanted to play as a line, and I think it’s been good. He’s one of those guys who wants to learn. He’s been around for a while, he knows us well and we get along well with him.”
DeBrusk hasn’t looked out of place and has built some chemistry with Bergeron and Marchand over the last few weeks. But how is the relationship with Cassidy?
Indeed, the player-coach dynamic provided plenty of media discussion whenever Cassidy critiqued DeBrusk’s performance. But Cassidy also wouldn’t hesitate to praise DeBrusk whenever he created scoring chances regardless of his nightly stat-sheet appearances.
“I like Jake as a person. He’s a good guy. He’s a low-maintenance, good teammate,” Cassidy told 98.5’s Toucher and Rich. “My issue with him has always been about pushing him, holding him accountable, second-effort-type of player. Some players respond to that differently than others, so I’ve had to adjust, and so did he.”
Both Cassidy and DeBrusk adjusted well enough to ease their tensions. Now they hope to mutually benefit from one another’s company in the time they have remaining, however long it is.
“He’s a Bruin now. That may change this summer. I don’t know. That’s out of my hands. But right now, he’s here to help us win the Cup,” Cassidy added. “We’re not changing where he is in the lineup right now unless the team requires it.”
Tim Rosenthal serves as the Managing Editor of Bruins Daily. He started contributing videos to the site in 2010 before fully coming on board during the Bruins' Stanley Cup run in 2011. His bylines over the last decade have been featured on Boston.com, FoxSports.com, College Hockey News, Patch and Inside Hockey. You can follow Tim on Twitter @_TimRosenthal.
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