Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand have been leaders for the Bruins for several years, and they can be credited with helping Jake DeBrusk turn a corner.
DeBrusk requested a trade out of Boston last season and rescinded it in the offseason. Many pointed to the Bruins and Bruce Cassidy parting ways as being the reason for not wanting out anymore, and the 26-year-old without a doubt has been playing his best hockey under first-year head coach Jim Montgomery with a career-high 48 points.
It was DeBrusk who played hero in the Winter Classic against the Pittsburgh Penguins at Fenway Park with two goals despite suffering a hand and lower-body injury that sidelined him for 17 games. Upon his return, it looked as if he never missed a beat.
But he didn’t always look like this kind of player. DeBrusk struggled mightily last year, and Cassidy revealed the two had a discussion after the COVID-19 bubble playoffs about what they needed from one another to get on the same page. It was tough for DeBrusk, but thanks to Marchand and Bergeron, he was able to “find the joy” in hockey once again.
“Honestly, it takes a lot of things to get out of that,” DeBrusk said during an appearance on WEEI’s “The Skate Podcast,” as transcribed by WEEI. “It’s one of those things where, weirdly enough, I think I put myself, my back against the wall, and realized I had to play a certain type of way. I wasn’t necessarily with Marchy and Bergy right away after that … but those guys helped me out a ton. They pretty much redeemed my career and made me find the joy in the game again. Marchy’s pretty hard on me, but it’s one of those things where they push me just to be better. Any time that someone’s trying to help you, it’s dumb not to listen.”
DeBrusk listened, and he’s reaped the benefits of doing so. He’s found a groove as a top-line winger and has a chance to tie or even break his career-high 27 goals. With 25 on the season and five games to go, it’s a real possibility.