DeBrusk ready to 'calm down and play hockey' after healthy scratch


DeBrusk ready to 'calm down and play hockey' after healthy scratch

The rookie season in the NHL has been a series of firsts for 20-year-old Jake DeBrusk, and most of them have been pretty great. 

The tops would obviously be DeBrusk scoring his first NHL goal on opening night in front of his family, but there have been some good moments little more than a month into his NHL career. There also the inevitable lows as well with the left winger sporting a team-worst minus-10 rating on the season and accounting for just one goal in his last 11 games. 

Perhaps sensing that DeBrusk needed to “hit the reset button”, Bruce Cassidy made the young forward a healthy scratch for the first time all season in Saturday night’s loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs. DeBrusk understood the reasoning behind it and was hoping to turn it into a positive at a point where the Bruins badly need difference-makers up front. 

“When I get back in I want to be ready to go, and make sure this doesn’t happen again,” said DeBrusk, who had zero shots on net and just 9:43 of ice time in the Friday night loss to Toronto in the last game he played. “I think the biggest thing right now is that you need to stick with it, and play with a little bit of a chip on your shoulder. You want to get it. That’s the kind of approach I need to take right now. You hit the reset button and just kind of go after it.

“It’s never a good situation. You’re sitting up in the press box while your team is playing, and you want to help your team. But there are positives that can be taken from it. I think it shows your character in what you do after it, and it’s another test for me. There are things I know I need to change and things I know I need to correct, and it’s pretty evident I need to change them quickly.”

What kinds of things does DeBrusk need to change in order to keep his name penciled in the lineup at the NHL level?

“I think I just need to calm down and play hockey, and do what I was doing in training camp being one of the fastest guys and just buzzing around out there,” said DeBrusk. “It’s being a hound on the fore-check…simple things like that while not thinking so much. The next game I’m going to do everything I can to have those [skating] legs and then the rest will fall into place.”

Cassidy expected he’d be putting DeBrusk right back into the thick of things on Wednesday night against the Anaheim Ducks, and the fact he’s also presumably down both Brad Marchand and Anders Bjork makes that decision a little bit easier. 

“Jake will most likely go back in,” said Cassidy. “The message to him was watch a game from up top. There are certain areas of your game that need to be better, and there are certain areas of your game that we like and need to be there every night. We talked about his energy and his legs. If he’s skating then everything else seems to fall into place for Jake, so that’s what we’re looking for.”

It’s the first time DeBrusk has been scratched at the NHL level, but it may not be the last given the nature of young rookie players adjusting to the intensity and daily grind. The challenge for a conscientious, hard-working kid like DeBrusk will be how he responds to all this with the Bruins facing a big challenge on a three-game road swing through California.   

For the Bruins, watching Olympic hockey "stings a bit"

USA TODAY Sports Photo

For the Bruins, watching Olympic hockey "stings a bit"

TORONTO – It’s no secret that NHL players weren’t happy about being barred from participating in the Winter Olympics wrapping up in South Korea this week. 

Instead the NHL continued their regular season with business as usual while skipping the Olympics for the first time since 1998, and college hockey players, minor league players and players already playing overseas in Europe were utilized to comprise the teams for the US, Canada and others participating in the Olympic Men’s Hockey tournament. 


The lack of NHL participation has made for a wide open tournament at this month’s Olympics, and led to the major upset of Canada actually losing to Germany on Friday in a match to play for the gold medal game this weekend. That was bad news for former Bruins forward Chris Kelly as the captain of Team Canada at the tail end of his hockey career, but great news for fellow former B’s forward Marco Sturm as the head coach of Team Germany. 

Naturally one couldn’t help but wonder what was going through the minds of players like Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand, who certainly would have both been on Team Canada, watching Hockey Canada fall short of the gold medal game. 

“Obviously you cheer for your country and that’s what we were all doing. I got up early to catch a little of the game,” said Bergeron. “It’s too bad. I thought Germany played a really good game, and there’s a part of me that’s very happy for Marco [Sturm] since he’s a friend of mine. We played together for a long time.

“It was tough. You wanted to be out there and you wanted to be able to compete. It’s too bad that we didn’t have a say in it. That’s probably the biggest thing for me. That’s my biggest disappointment that we had no say in being a part of it. It was different. The last two Olympics I was in it, and now being able to watch it on TV it’s actually been a lot of fun to be able to watch different events at any time of the day.”


While Bergeron has his two gold medals from each of the past two Olympic Games to go along with his memories, Marchand might have missed his one chance to be a part of Team Canada at the Olympics during the peak of his hockey career. Coming off last season’s stunning performance from Team Canada at the World Cup, Marchand would have been close to an automatic for the Olympic roster, but instead it’s an experience he may have simply missed the boat on given that he’ll be 33 years old the next time around. 

“Obviously you get over it, but it was more about it being an opportunity lost, I think,” said Marchand. “It was a potential opportunity lost, but it allows other guys to have opportunities. I couldn’t be any happier that a guy like Chris Kelly gets to be there. It’s a huge opportunity. A lost opportunity for us is a huge opportunity for other guys…but it would have been nice to be there and be a part of it. It’s the biggest stage in the world.  

“The biggest reason it stings is that I never thought I would even be potentially be looked at for a team like that. With how things have played out the last couple of years, I might have been able to crack that [Olympic] lineup. So I think it stings a little more for that reason…to have the rug pulled out from under you for no reason. It does sting a bit, but that’s how it goes.”

That stinging feeling from the league pulling out of the Olympics will no doubt be revisited the next time the NHL and NHLPA go to the bargaining table for a new Collective Bargaining Agreement. But that’s a different story for a different day as the first Winter Olympics without NHL players in 20 years finally goes into the books this weekend.


DeBrusk on being subject of trade rumors: "I love being a Bruin"

File Photo

DeBrusk on being subject of trade rumors: "I love being a Bruin"

TORONTO – Jake DeBrusk has heard about the trade rumors. Heck, the 21-year-old has actually been traded before in his hockey career as he was dealt in junior hockey from Swift Current to the Red Deer Rebels in his final season. It’s a little different, however, when DeBrusk hears his name involved in trade rumors with New York Rangers defenseman Ryan McDonagh, and reports indicate that DeBrusk is a name that Rangers GM Jeff Gorton wants included in any deal. 


It makes perfect sense with DeBrusk off to a strong start to his NHL career with 11 goals and 29 points in 54 games while playing a top-6 role next to David Krejci, and just scratching the surface of how good he can be with the Bruins. Brandon Carlo has likewise been mentioned prominently as well as a young NHL player being sought after in trade talks. 

But the bottom line for all the Bruins youngsters is that they don’t want to go anywhere, and are doing their best to block everything out while preparing to go out and do their best. 

“I got traded in junior, so I know a little bit about it…but it’s a little different when it’s the magnitude of the NHL,” said DeBrusk. “We’re just focusing on getting wins, and doing everything I can do to help the team win. At the same you’re keeping an eye out and looking [at the rumors] secretly. But it is what it is. You can’t control it. You can only control your play, and do anything I can to help the team win now. You can only take it day by day. 

“I love being with these guys and we’re a pretty tight group. So whatever happens is going to happen, but at the same time whoever is on the ice we’ll go to battle with them.”


Clearly DeBrusk wants to stick with the team that selected him 14th overall in the 2015 NHL Draft, and the Bruins would do well to keep a talented, likable and bright youngster that could be a meaningful member of the organization for a long, long time. But he’s also drawing whatever positive that he can out of the situation, and the biggest one is that other NHL teams are clearly taking notice of what he’s done this season as a rookie. 

Being the primary name mentioned in a deal for a player like the captain of the New York Rangers means you must be doing a lot of things right. 

“When you’re a rookie with your name being thrown around and the other guy has some pretty high stature in the league, it’s a compliment. But I don’t look too much into it,” said DeBrusk. “I love being a Bruin. I just want to continue to get better, continue to improve and I’ve got lots of room to grow. I’m just taking it shift-by-shift.”

That’s a smart kid with a good answer as he focuses on his game on the ice, and learns on the job to navigate through his first NHL experience that’s now included being at the heart of a juicy trade rumor for the Black and Gold.