Heartfelt father-son moment punctuates DeBrusk’s debut

Heartfelt father-son moment punctuates DeBrusk’s debut

BOSTON - Once you’re a dad you get even more of an affinity for those heartwarming father-son moments that can often happen in sports, and there was a beautiful one between former NHLer Louie DeBrusk and 20-year-old Bruins rookie Jake DeBrusk on opening night. 

Dad serves as a hockey television analyst in Canada and had worked the Edmonton Oilers game on Wednesday night, and then took a red-eye flight to make sure he was in the stands for his son’s NHL debut at TD Garden against the Nashville Predators on opening night.

It was a special night for the DeBrusks, who had a large contingent of friends and family that traveled from Edmonton for the game. Jake responded with his first NHL goal and a pair of points in Boston’s 4-3 victory.


NESN cameras caught DeBrusk’s dad teary-eyed and beaming with pride in the stands right after the goal, and it was something his exuberant son was only more than happy to talk about after the victory.

“He’s known as a tough guy but I heard that there were some tears coming from him. So it’s a very emotional time, but I’ll be chirping him for a couple of years to come. That’s for sure,” said DeBrusk, with a big grin on his face. “It means a lot. He took a red-eye here with the family, got in early with family, took a nap, came to the game. It’s one of those things that I’m very fortunate and lucky.

“Obviously, everyone’s got different family things going on, but I was lucky enough for them to come and lucky enough to score when they were here. So it’s one of those things that I guess was meant to be and something I’ll never forget, that’s for sure.”

DeBrusk was a force throughout. He played with speed and had a team-high four shots on net in his 14-plus minutes punctuated by the scoring drive to the net in the second period. By midway through the game, DeBrusk was on the left wing on a line with David Krejci and Anders Bjork and the former first-round pick looked like he absolutely belonged after sweating out his roster spot in training camp.

DeBrusk’s coach certainly came away impressed with the rookie skating hard, moving his feet and taking it hard to the net. Bruce Cassidy expects to see more of the same after such a promising debut.

“[He’s a] smart player. You can’t teach that. Good feel for the game. We’ve talked about liking his pace. For him, it’s just about playing against big men now. Is he ready for that? Tonight he looked good. At other times, guys push him off the puck,” said Cassidy. “He’ll have to learn what he can get away with, but he does have the ability to separate. We saw that.

“If you can’t separate with your foot speed, then it doesn’t matter how smart you are sometimes once they get locked on to you. So, he has that ability to go with his smarts, so we like him. See tonight, he had a little bit of finish as well. That’s the other part. You need that production at some point, and we got it tonight.”

The Bruins certainly got their production on opening night and the DeBrusk family got an awesome father-son hockey moment roughly 20 years in the making.



Morning skate: Does everyone owe Don Sweeney an apology?

NBC Sports Boston Illustration

Morning skate: Does everyone owe Don Sweeney an apology?

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading while amazed that another Major League Baseball season is right around the corner.  

*In the best news that I’ve heard over the last 24 hours, FOH (Friend of Haggs) Eddie Olczyk announced on the air that he is cancer-free after a waging a battle against the disease over the course of this season. Great stuff, Edzo!

*CBC takes a look at the potential playoff scenarios coming together in the next couple of weeks with the Bruins and Maple Leafs seemingly on a collision course to face each other in the first round. That’s been apparent since about January.

*Interesting conversation at about whether or not everybody owes Bruins general manager Don Sweeney an apology after the way the Bruins have developed this season. I’m with Wysh that the Bruins stumbled and made some bad moves out of the gate, but it’s clear that their overall long term plan was a sound one that’s now playing out. So no apologies for Sweeney, but certainly appreciation for the good job he’s doing running the Black and Gold.

*Clayton Keller talks about his Calder Trophy candidacy that’s kind of faded in the second half of the year, and his first full season in Arizona.

*The frustrated Detroit Red Wings are out of playoff contention for a second straight year as they sit amidst a crossroads for a once great organization.

*For something completely different: An oral history of the amazing Outsiders movie done by Francis Ford Coppola that was basically a Who’s Who of young stars in Hollywood from the early 1980’s.

Hagg Bag: It just feels like it’s the Bruins' year

NBC Sports Boston Illustration

Hagg Bag: It just feels like it’s the Bruins' year

With 10 games remaining in the season, the Bruins have clinched a playoff berth with plenty of room to spare and get healthy for the postseason. It remains to be seen if all of Boston’s banged up players can sufficiently heal up for a Stanley Cup playoff run that’s set to begin three weeks from now, and it remains to be seen if the Bruins still have any chance whatsoever to pass the Tampa Bay Lightning for the top spot in the Eastern Conference.

So with the Bruins in the home stretch, it felt like an opportune time to crack open the Hagg Bag mailbag and answer some questions. As always these are real tweets using the #HaggBag hash tag, real emails to my email address and real messages to my NBCS Facebook Page. Now, onto the bag:

What a surprise this year. They've been so much fun to watch. Kudos to [Don] Sweeney and [Bruce] Cassidy.

--Ross Mullin (@scoopsdad)

JH: Yeah, and Cam Neely too. You’ve got to give the Bruins management group credit for taking their lumps when they missed the playoffs a couple of years in a row, learning from their missteps early on in that transition process and then really focusing on the things that qualify as their strengths be it drafting or development.

The Bruins have been a ridiculous 39-10-4 since the middle the middle of November and really have been the NHL’s best team since that point with no consistently discernible weakness. They’re top-10 in just about every major category and top-5 in the NHL in both offense and defense, and the mix of proven, battle-hardened veterans and energetic, dynamic young players is exactly how you’d want it on this roster. Really when you think about it, the Bruins have hit it right on just about everything this season from leaving roster spots open in camp for Danton Heinen and Jake DeBrusk, to benching Tuukka Rask back in November, and all the way to picking up Rick Nash, Brian Gionta, Tommy Wingels and Nick Holden at the deadline and signing Ryan Donato late in the season. Everything has worked for Sweeney and Cassidy, and that’s one of those things that make you start thinking something special is happening when you witness it firsthand for a while.

One thing that you can’t really quantify is the mental toughness and heart the team consistently shows as well. Coming from three goals down in the third period in Carolina, or shutting down the East’s best team while missing your two best defensive players…the last few weeks have just been a window of what we’ve seen all season from a team that’s surprised at every turn with how ready they are to compete already this year. It all adds up to an “aura of greatness” that you start to sense about this year’s team. Not “greatness” in the sense that they’re the 1988 Edmonton Oilers, but “greatness” in the sense that they are capable of something great this season.

It just feels like it’s their year with the way everything has gone right for them amidst a sea of adversity and injuries, doesn’t it?


Hey Joe how are u? I'm a listener of The Big Jab Radio station... Got a question: What do u think is going to happen with McQuaid are they going to keep him or would u say he could possibly be on the way out the door?

--Brandon Knight

JH: It’s never easy parting with a Stanley Cup winner or a gritty, tough competitor like Adam McQuaid that always selflessly stands up for his teammates, so you don’t come at this question with a very easy answer in your head. As long as McQuaid is in Boston, he’ll always be a warrior in the defensive zone and a player that you want on the ice for his sheer toughness alone.

That being said the Bruins are going to need to start paying their young players after next season, and they are going to need salary space in order to do just that. It might not make it vital that McQuaid is moved this summer, but it might be a situation where the Bruins will be it might be a situation where the Bruins will be pushed into moving on from him in free agency a year from now. That being said, McQuaid spent a fair portion of this season as a healthy scratch and was left unprotected in last summer’s expansion draft.

So if the right deal that made sense came along for the Bruins this summer, they would certainly think about it. That being said, they also don’t have a ton of organizational depth on the right side of their defense beyond Charlie McAvoy, Kevan Miller, Brandon Carlo and McQuaid. So if they traded McQuaid they’d still have to spend money to go out and get a replacement for him that could play at the NHL level as well, and he certainly wouldn’t bring some of the intangibles to the table that a guy nick-named Darth Quaider already does for the Bruins. So I wouldn’t be so quick to move him with just a year to go on his contract.

Any idea what the @AHLBruins Star Wars jerseys are going to be for this Friday? If anyone knows it would be you

RossDaLostCauze @RossOliveira1

JH: I don’t know and I’m not sure I’m going to be able to make it down to Providence for the Force-filled festivities, unfortunately. Now if the P-Bruins want to send along some cool photos or a video of their Star Wars sweaters for this weekend, I’d be happy to promote it for them. I’m just glad they’re finally joining the party with all these other minor league organizations that have enjoyed majorly successful events by holding these Star Wars and superhero nights. They’re great for business and the team usually makes a lot of dough for a worthy charity by raffling off whatever Star Wars jerseys they wear during the game. I think this would be my all-time favorite Star Wars hockey jersey worn by the Fort Wayne Komets, and yes I do own one of them.


Joe, seems like everyone minus Bjork will be back for playoffs. What do you think the lines will look like when we cross that bridge?

--Dan (@dan_baraniuk)

JH: Good health will be a good problem to have for the Bruins and a major problem for anybody that they play. I think the B’s are going to be a handful for anybody, but I do also think the first round vs. the Maple Leafs might be the toughest matchup for them as well. As far as what the lines might look like, here it goes:





The fourth line is a tough one to handicap because the Bruins could go in a number of different situations, and this would push Sean Kuraly, Tim Schaller and Tommy Wingels to the bench as healthy scratches. Would Bruce Cassidy do that to his fourth line after they’ve been so good, tough and effective all season? Will Ryan Donato continue to play well enough to push his way into a top-6 spot jumping straight from Harvard? It’s too tough to make the call on these kinds of things with weeks to go until the playoffs, and with more injuries potentially coming as the B’s are still in the 16 games in 31 days stretch during the month of March.

But that’s a rough idea of what it might look like to get the conversation rolling. A lot of the decisions may come down to the team that they’re playing in the playoffs as well, and how the series is playing out for both teams.


Who would you rather have right now out of the three…Brandon Carlo, Kevan Miller or Colin Miller?

--Greg Ventura

JH: I’d rather have Bobby Orr. He turned 70 years old the other day, you know. In all seriousness, I’d take Kevan Miller as the guy I’d rather have for right now. I certainly haven’t come anywhere close to giving up on Brandon Carlo as a player that could continue to develop and enjoy a long, very solid NHL career as a top-4 defenseman. Certainly Carlo hasn’t really taken a step forward in second season and life has been difficult for him away from the Zdeno Chara pairing, but he’s still a young 6-foot-5 defenseman with size and strength that can also skate very well. Those guys don’t exactly grow on trees and he’s still just 21 years old. All that being said I’m not very surprised by the 10 goals and 39 points for Colin Miller with Vegas. You could see that talent when he was here in Boston, but he wasn’t going to get big minutes on the right side (5-on-5 or power play-wise) in Boston with Charlie McAvoy coming to town. Let’s wait to see what Colin Miller and Kevan Miller do for their respective teams in the playoffs before we start asking these questions. Also, Carlo doesn’t really enter into this equation as he was exempt from the expansion draft and it didn’t ever come down to picking Carlo over Colin Miller, who are two very different kinds of D-men.

Hey Haggs, Is the Sat morning Hockey Show available as a podcast anywhere?

--Guy Cascio

JH: Yes, and my good buddy and Hockey Show host Ryan Johnston (@RJohnston985) tweets it out from his twitter account within an hour or two after the Hockey Show has ended on Saturdays.

Mr. Haggerty, Do you remember in the shortened 2012-13 season the Bruins were referred to as a “Jekyll and Hyde” team as some nights they played outstanding, yet lost to teams that they should have been beating? Do you think that this current team, despite losing some matchups where they should be coming away with two points, has the potential to make a deep rub and get through the teams in the East like Toronto, Tampa, Pittsburgh, Washington? Some nights I feel that I see greatness, some nights I feel that I see a mediocre team at best. I know the schedule is tough with short back-to-backs. I do like the recent acquisitions to this team

--Charlie McLaughlin

JH: A deep rub? No. A deep run? Yes.

What is with the teams and poor line changes!!! Minor hockey coaches teach line changes when the puck is out of your zone and over the red line!!

--Randy Weiler (@hornytoad17)

JH: I think the easiest answer to this is that stuff happens in games. I don’t think the Bruins are any more prone to a bad line change here or there, than any other of the 30 teams in the NHL. It happens to every team over the course of 82 games, and I think stuff like that can be even more prominent when the schedule gets really dense for a team as it is for the Bruins right now with 21 games in 39 days to close out the season. Is it a coach’s fault if a player screws up the dump-in attempt as the rest of the group goes off the ice for a line change? I don’t think so. These guys are pros and should be able to do something like that.

The delay of game penalties are something I’d look at as more of a reflection on mismanagement coming from the bench, and admittedly the Bruins have had a couple of those as well. But when you look at the way the special teams are coached with this group, how each player is held accountable whether they are a rookie or a veteran and when you look at the development of the B’s young guys, I’m not sure how you could view the coaching as anything but a major strength on this Bruins team. Bruce Cassidy has done a hell of a job, and would be factoring much more prominently into the Jack Adams conversation if Gerard Gallant weren’t taking his expansion Golden Knights team to the playoffs. I think it’s even been enough evidence for the Claude Apologist Crew to finally put away their crybaby soup for good.