After Boston’s lackluster 2-1 loss to the Detroit Red Wings Tuesday night, the attention turned back to the off-ice drama surrounding the team, with so much needing to be handled by the Bruins’ organization in the two days since Sunday’s win over the Vancouver Canucks.
On top of Brad Marchand sitting out the first game of a three-game suspension and head coach Bruce Cassidy missing the game in the league’s COVID protocol, a key distraction the team is dealing with stems from the revelation that forward Jake DeBrusk has asked to be traded.
After that trade request was confirmed by his agent, DeBrusk drew back into the lineup after he was scratched Sunday against Vancouver. In his return, DeBrusk was met with an even brighter spotlight on his performance, focused on what kind of effort the potentially outgoing left winger would give.
Though that effort was hard to judge Tuesday with DeBrusk only playing 10:25 -- now with the fourth line -- Taylor Hall provided some insight into how DeBrusk has handled the awkward conversation with teammates about his wish to leave town and what players and coaches expect from him until he is no longer a Bruin.
First, Hall revealed that DeBrusk addressed the team in the morning before Tuesday’s game against the Red Wings.
“He talked to us this morning. He just said, ‘I love you guys. This is something in my career that I'm at a crossroads,’” Hall said.
“He’s not a distraction at all,” Hall continued. “It's almost better that it's out there. You have a day to kind of digest that.”
Though the organization knew of DeBrusk’s eagerness to get out of Boston, it was first publicly reported by Sportset’s Elliott Friedman and TSN’s Ryan Rishaug on Monday.
Don Sweeney admitted Tuesday morning, “I’m not overly surprised that this eventually came out,” and, “I’ve been in the know about this for quite some time.” But it’s unclear how long or if his teammates were aware of the behind-the-scenes talks of a trade between the two parties.
Hall went on: “As a group, as an organization, I think you deal with those distractions head on and you just go play the game. That’s the culture, that's the motto that we have. Whoever's in you've got to play well. That’s what we said this morning. We expect Jake to play as well as he can even under the circumstances.”
Hall also projected forward to what he thinks the 25-year-old winger could bring as he continues his career elsewhere.
“Jake’s a great kid. He’s got a lot of skill and he’s going to have a good career in this league,” Hall said.
Hall experienced a somewhat similar situation when he had reached his breaking point in Buffalo with the Sabres last season. By early April 2021, it was clear that Hall and the Sabres were working on a move to part ways at the trade deadline, with Buffalo even sitting Hall in preparation for a trade in the week leading up to his acquisition by Boston.
When Bruins goaltender Linus Ullmark was asked to comment about the aforementioned conversation DeBrusk had with his teammates on Tuesday morning, Ullmark replied with a quick answer: “JD is a great guy. It’s unfortunate. No further comments.”
The spotlight will remain on DeBrusk -- who faced a few boos at the Garden against Detroit -- until he is dealt.
In terms of a timeline, Friedman reported that nothing is imminent, but that something could get done before Christmas. He also reported that there “is a lot of interest” in DeBrusk. Rishaug added that “as many as eight teams” have already reached out to the Bruins about DeBrusk, with more expected.