It feels like it’s been brewing for a few years, but the day is finally here: Jake DeBrusk has (reportedly) asked out, preferring a change of scenery over remaining with the Boston Bruins.
It’s a sad-but-predictable end to what has been a tenure filled with ups and downs for DeBrusk, with more of the latter than the former in recent years.
Heading into the season, both DeBrusk and head coach Bruce Cassidy appeared to be willing to embrace a “The Other Guys” style fresh start.
At first, it appeared to be working: DeBrusk scored on opening night, then added another three games later.
He then went seven games without a point before registering a three-game point streak, then followed that with a three-game pointless streak in what’s likely his last stint as a Bruin.
Up, down, up, down.
The fact that we’ve reached this point says a lot, not just about DeBrusk, but about Cassidy and Don Sweeney as well.
I won’t pretend to have a wealth of insight into Cassidy’s coaching style or what goes on behind closed doors, but it seems like DeBrusk has been in Cassidy’s doghouse for quite a while (even before the 2020 bizarro season).
Whether there’s something about DeBrusk that rubs Cassidy the wrong way or it’s Cassidy holding DeBrusk to a higher standard to get the most out of him is irrelevant — it seemed pretty clear for a while that DeBrusk just wasn’t Cassidy’s guy.
Where you stand on that issue likely depends entirely on your opinions on Cassidy and DeBrusk — remember when we all had similar arguments about Claude Julien’s treatment of Ryan Spooner? Good times.
The truth is likely somewhere in the middle.
DeBrusk was given a decent leash to try to figure things out at times in the past, and it’s fair to say that he didn’t always make it hard for Cassidy to keep him in the lineup.
He had flashes of power-forward hockey and flashes of big performances in big games, it just wasn’t there consistently.
It’s also fair to say that Cassidy seemed to do more to hold DeBrusk accountable than he did to other guys who seemed to coast through bad performances, albeit further down the lineup.
Regardless, the latest healthy scratch seemed like a tipping point.
It’s with the benefit of hindsight that we say tonight “yeah, you could see this coming,” but the scratch seemed a little harsh, given the larger context.
The Bruins aren’t exactly humming as a team right now, and while was scoreless in his last three games, two of those were the team-wide duds against Calgary and New York.
Plus, those three games were preceded by a 1G-3A-4PTS on nine shots in his previous three games.
It kind of seemed like Cassidy throwing up his hands and deciding he’d seen enough. DeBrusk, through his agent, responded in kind.
And now, here we are.
While DeBrusk and Cassidy are the main players here, Sweeney deserves his fair share of scrutiny as well.
We’ll skip the part about rehashing the 2015 NHL Draft, as we’ve all had just about enough of that.
But it seems, from the outside, like Sweeney and Cassidy probably should have had an honest conversation about DeBrusk’s fit years ago and acted accordingly.
If Cassidy felt like he had done all he could to get through to DeBrusk and it wasn’t working, a move should have been made before last season and before signing DeBrusk to a two-year contract extension.
If fans could see that DeBrusk and Cassidy frequently clashed (fairly or unfairly, depending on who you like), Sweeney could certainly see it too.
In that case, why not move on from DeBrusk while he still had a decent amount of value?
Instead, we’ve reached the point where DeBrusk’s agent goes public with his trade demand, effectively cratering whatever value may have been left.
Maybe there was a part of Sweeney holding on to try to save something from that oft-ridiculed draft class, or maybe Sweeney was willing to be a bit more patient with a kid who had shown flashes of great hockey in the past.
Whatever the case may have been, it seems like no one was really on the same page: not Cassidy and DeBrusk, or DeBrusk and Sweeney, or Sweeney and Cassidy.
To be fair to all parties involved, maybe Sweeney wasn’t convinced he needed to pull the trigger before, and this is one of those things that melted down quickly — everyone’s exasperated with everyone and it’s time to move on.
Plus, this whole situation is probably something that gets blown a little bit out of proportion due to the take-fueled chaos surrounding DeBrusk’s draft class.
After all, draft picks don’t always work out, and sometimes players need a change of scenery...world keeps spinning.
If this is the end of the road for DeBrusk in Boston, nobody involved will be happy with how things turned out — we all wish it had gone better.
But sometimes, cutting bait and starting over is the right move, even if the hot takes will suffer.