Jake DeBrusk and the Bruins are on to Round 2 against the Blue Jackets. And the second-year winger couldn’t be happier.
But he had touchy subject he wanted to get off his chest following Boston’s Round 1 win over the Maple Leafs. A topic that heated up after getting cross-checked in the face by Nazem Kadri in Game 2.
DeBrusk had his hardest skating game of the series in that Game 2. The 2015 first-round pick irritated Kadri — a game removed from slew footing DeBrusk — and the rest of the Leafs with an aggressive physical display. DeBrusk’s hit on Patrick Marleau in the third period drew Kadri’s cross-checking response.
DeBrusk left the game but returned to the team in time for Game 3. Kadri sat for the rest of the series following his in-person hearing with the Department of Player Safety. Yet, DeBrusk became public enemy No. 1 in Toronto for the rest of the series.
It got to the point where DeBrusk says he temporarily deactivated all of his social media accounts after receiving death threats from certain Leafs fans. He wasn’t the only one, though. He says the rest of his family also received death threats from the Toronto fan base.
? Jake DeBrusk discusses the death threats that he and his family received during the Toronto series. pic.twitter.com/2bM9MVkbU0— Bruins Daily (@BruinsDaily) April 25, 2019
Later in the day, the assembled Bruins press hovered around DeBrusk’s locker at Warrior Ice Arena following the morning skate, where he addressed the situation further.
“Yeah, it was something that I didn’t really expect, ever. It was kind of my first go around with that,” DeBrusk said. “It didn’t really get to me, to be honest, but it was just kind of there and it wasn’t stopping. So, I just tried to defuse it — especially when there’s family [involved] because it’s a little different.”
DeBrusk says even his father — former NHL enforcer Louie DeBrusk — wasn’t immune from the death threats.
The second line winger also had the support of the tight-knit Bruins locker room over the last week.
“I think the guys in the room took me in and helped me kind of get over that a bit,” DeBrusk said. “Some guys had similar reactions [from fans] at times, and it really, really helped me. And I think the best way to go about that is that we won the series and that we don’t have to deal with it [anymore].”
DeBrusk, who tallied a goal and an assist in Round 1, saw the worst of certain sports fans reacting over the top. He saw the tweets, heard the boos inside Scotiabank Arena, and encountered the heckling from Leafs fans on the streets of Toronto.
The Edmonton-born forward persevered through the process. And now, like the rest of his teammates, he has his focus set on a Blue Jackets squad coming off their historic sweep of the Tampa Bay Lightning.
“I think for everyone [the Leafs series] was a sense of relief,” DeBrusk added. “Obviously you come into the year and you kind of know that you’re going to be seeing that team. And that’s kind of the matchup you’re looking at because you’re watching them play in the regular season and into the playoffs.
“Personally going through [the death threats from Leafs fans] has helped me learn lots of different things. I think it forces you to at this time of year and it was awesome that we came out on top.”