The universe wasted no time making The Jake DeBrusk Situation awkward for all involved.
Just one day after his trade request went public, an injury to Anton Blidh and a Brad Marchand suspension has forced the Bruins to put DeBrusk back in their lineup for Tuesday’s head-to-head with the Detroit Red Wings.
It’s a showcase that probably doesn’t happen if the Bruins are healthy — the Bruins actually can’t even make a call down to Providence right now, as the P-Bruins are in the middle of a massive COVID outbreak that’s put the team on ‘lockdown’ — but one that the Black and Gold expect DeBrusk to take advantage of should he want to his request to be fulfilled.
“We expect Jake to play well,” Bruins general manager Don Sweeney said following the team’s morning skate. “For Jake, it comes down to him playing his best hockey. Whether that’s for us — and hopefully that’s for us tonight — but also if it’s leading to an opportunity elsewhere, he has to play his best hockey as a player. He knows that.”
“[DeBrusk] has to impact the game tonight for us,” Sweeney said. “That’s what we expect him to do.”
DeBrusk’s teammates, meanwhile, expect No. 74 to be a professional despite his issues with his situation.
“For us, things don’t change,” Bruins captain Patrice Bergeron said. “We’re going to expect Jake to be accountable just like the rest of the guys and work hard just like the rest of the guys. The culture stays the same, the way we approach it stays the same. The approach right now, as a team, is on the ice we play together. We play for another, we play for the Boston Bruins, and we play for the crest. That’s what we expect out of Jake for the time being.
“It doesn’t change our approach. We’re there for him and we expect him to be there for us. That’s the bottom line.”
In addition to the DeBrusk drama, the Bruins will find themselves coaching this game without Bruce Cassidy, as the Boston bench boss landed in the league’s COVID protocol with “mild symptoms.”
With Cassidy out — and with assistant coach Chris Kelly currently away from the team — Joe Sacco will serve as the team’s acting head coach, with assistant coach Kevin Dean, goaltending coach Bob Essensa, and skating and skills coach Kim Brandvold expected to take on larger support roles for the Black and Gold’s coaching staff.
Linus Ullmark will get the call in net for the Bruins. The 28-year-old Ullmark posted a 36-of-38 line in Boston’s 3-2 win over the Canucks on Sunday, and enters action with a 5-3-0 record and .914 save percentage on the season.
The Red Wings, meanwhile, will enter tonight’s contest riding a two-game win streak, but have won just three of their 11 road tilts this season.
Ty Anderson is a writer and columnist for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Yell at him on Twitter: @_TyAnderson.