Hawks Insider

DeBrincat on return to Chicago: 'A lot of memories here'

/ by Charlie Roumeliotis
Presented By Nationwide Insurance Agent Jeff Vukovich
Hawks Insider
Alex DeBrincat

For the first time since being traded over the summer, Alex DeBrincat will finally return to the United Center on Monday when the Blackhawks take on the Ottawa Senators. But it's coming at a weird time. 

There's barely a month left in the regular season, and the Blackhawks just purged their roster again. There aren't many players on the other side that DeBrincat actually played with.

"I looked at the board and I guess I don't know too many names on there," DeBrincat said smiling. "But it's still cool to be back. A lot of memories here, so it's been fun."

One of the players no longer here is his close friend and former linemate Patrick Kane, who's obviously a Blackhawks icon. DeBrincat played against Kane on Thursday in his New York Rangers debut at Madison Square Garden, and even he had a tough time processing seeing Kane in a blue jersey.

"That was definitely weird," DeBrincat said. "Seeing him in a different uniform was different but I think he'll do good there. Obviously being back here and not having Kane or [Jonathan] Toews in the lineup is definitely different. You grow up watching those guys and then playing with them, they're definitely the heartbeat of that team and face of the franchise, so it's tough to see them not playing."

With his return coming so late in the season and the surging Senators knocking on the door of a playoff spot, this almost feels like just another game for DeBrincat. The Senators have won five in a row and own a 12-3-1 record over their last 16 games. They're in the hunt, and that's something DeBrincat hasn't experienced much of in his NHL career.


"We’re playing meaningful games right now, which is a lot of fun," DeBrincat said. "Hopefully we can squeeze into that playoff spot. It’s been fun."

On a personal level, DeBrincat has 20 goals in 62 games. He's on pace to finish with only 26, but the underlying numbers suggest he should have more. He's also hit the post or crossbar seven times this season, so the luck hasn't quite been there.

"He could have 35 goals," Senators head coach D.J. Smith said. "I just think that month [in December] it went in and we're hoping March is that month as well. If he can get hot, we're going to have a chance."

While his goal total is down, DeBrincat is on the pace to finish with 45 assists, which would be a new career-high. He's also on pace to record 71 points. He's producing offensively and is one of the driving forces for the Senators.

DeBrincat's future, however, remains unclear. With the Senators going through an ownership change, any important long-term decisions appear to be in a holding pattern.

It doesn't sound like DeBrincat wants to make any decisions right now either. He's focused on the playoff push.

"I think I’m just going to leave it to my agents right now," DeBrincat said. "At this point of the season, there’s no point to rush anything. I think we’re just going to wait to the summer. We have a lot of big games here and don’t want to really be distracted. We’re going to probably wait to the summer."

All in all, DeBrincat doesn't have any hard feelings about being traded. He landed in a good spot with the Senators, who have a young core and a bright future. And he could be part of it. 

"I loved my time here," DeBrincat said. "I thought I was going to be a Blackhawk forever. Obviously didn’t turn out that way. Everything happens for a reason. The initial shock of it is tough. But when I heard I was going to the Senators and the young core we had and obviously with what we have now, I knew it was going to be a lot of fun to play hockey here and play with these guys. That was the bright side."

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