Jake DeBrusk, Bruce Cassidy Back On Same Page After Important Offseason Talk

DeBrusk likely is to begin this season on the third line


Sep 22, 2021

Jake DeBrusk is getting a clean slate this year, and he most certainly needed it.

The Boston Bruins winger had his worst year as a pro in 2021, struggling to get going at pretty much every point during the season. He was moved all over the lineup, and at times healthy scratched, but nothing ever really seemed to work.

DeBrusk, who lives by himself, eventually admitted how challenging the COVID-19 protocols were on him. He was not alone, with players all across the NHL expressing the difficulties they faced from all the isolation.

So, when the Bruins were eliminated from the postseason in the second round, head coach Bruce Cassidy thought it best to wait for things to settle a bit before chatting with the winger about, well, everything.

But over the summer, the conversation did happen.

“He stayed in the Boston area for a while, then went back to Edmonton. We had a good talk about some of the things that didn’t allow him to be at the top of his game (that were happening) away from the rink,” Cassidy said over Zoom on Wednesday. “Some people, with the COVID protocols, it affects people differently what they can and can’t do. Jake was one of those guys that being by himself was a little bit tougher on him.

“We discussed some of those things and how we can help as a staff, how it was probably on both of us to reach out a little more, I think in today’s game, with today’s athlete, there has to be a bit more than that, and so I think we both held ourselves accountable in that regard, opened the lines of communication better, and that may bleed into the on-ice performance and it will take care of itself.”

Now, with the Bruins fully vaccinated, the rules are far more relaxed, and some of the isolation issues should sort themselves out. On the ice, DeBrusk likely is going to get a whole new crop of linemates, one of them probably being veteran pivot Erik Haula.

DeBrusk is an X-factor in all of this. When he’s at his best, the Bruins figure to roll three very strong lines with high offensive upside.

So, all of this marked an important turning of the page for the 24-year-old.

“At the end of the day, the message is the same: How he can help the Bruins win,” Cassidy said. “That’s what we ask of every player. So, I won’t share any more than that, the specifics, but those are a couple of the areas we touched on — both off the ice, and then on the ice, the expectation.

“Jake looks like he’s ready to go … again, he’ll have to find some chemistry of it ends up being Haula in the middle. But at the end of the day, I think the message stays the same: Be the best version of yourself, and I think your ice time will take care of itself and you’ll compliment anyone you play with.”

Thumbnail photo via Bob DeChiara/USA TODAY Sports Images
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