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.
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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.