Louie DeBrusk will not be standing between the benches or be up in the broadcast booth at TD Garden in Boston next week describing the action in the Stanley Cup final for Hockey Night in Canada — that’s Craig Simpson’s job — but he’ll be there, loud and proud and biased, pulling for the Bruins.
He’ll be there with wife Cindy and doesn’t have to be on the fence because he’s not on the job as a broadcaster. He has a dog in this fight and it’s son Jake, 22, the second-line Bruins winger who’s in his first Cup final.
“The emotions? Much worse as a dad,” said DeBrusk, who worked the first two rounds for SportsNet, including the St. Louis beating Winnipeg Jets in round one to kick off their run to their first finals in almost five decades. “You’re so nervous as a parent, but it’s also so amazing. Every day I wake up I have a smile on my face. Hey, the kid has a chance to win the Stanley Cup. Jake is beside himself and I told him, ‘that’s how you should feel.’ There’s guys who play a long, long time and never get close to being in a final. I told Jake, at this stage ‘buckle up and have fun.’”
Louie and Cindy will be in Boston for Games 1 and 2, then Louie will detour to Buffalo for a few days for the NHL Combine because he’s working the draft in Vancouver in a month and wants to prepare.
Jake’s parents and, hopefully, daughter Jordyn who is over in Europe right now, will be there for the game where, hopefully, the Bruins will be in a position to win their second Cup in the last eight years.
“I think I know who he’ll be cheering for,” said Jake. “I don’t think he’ll be wearing a sweater. He usually wears a (Bruins) hat but my mom will wear a jersey.”
The Cup final is a stranger animal than watching Jake play his first NHL game last season and scoreing in that first game.
“First time was a remarkable experience against Nashville,” said Louie. “But Games 1 and 2 against Carolina in the third series at TD Garden were the first playoff games I’ve seen Jake play and he’s played 30. I sat beside Rick Heinen and Matt Grzelcyk’s dad, all of us in the stands and all three of our kids scored in that game. We were all high-fiving one another.
“I swear it brings you right back to minor hockey where you’re standing at the glass with a coffee in the morning watching your boy out on the ice. You’re living through their every moment back then and it’s no different now. The stage is just a little bigger.”
“This is something you, obviously, dream of,” said Jake. “I’m very lucky to be doing this now (with 138 NHL games), some guys have longer roads (teammate David Backes, almost 1,000 games), some have shorter like me. I’m trying not to take it for granted.”
When he’s working a hockey game as a commentator — one of the best in the business who also does the Oilers game on TV along with his Sportsnet duties — DeBrusk is not there be a cheerleader. As a fan, it is different story.
“Being biased goes out the window,” he said. “I get more disappointed in a non-call against Boston as a parent than if I was doing the game on TV and Jake was playing. But when I don’t have the governor on for Hockey Night in Canada, my vocabulary might, uh, be a little different at a non-call. Or if somebody cheap-shots my boy, my back gets up. I can let go in the heat of the moment as a parent.”
If Louie watches the Cup final, he’ll be in the present and the past. He can’t help it as a dad.
“Every parent has thoughts of their boy making it to the NHL and I was no different, but I was more realistic in my thoughts because I was a player. I knew it was such a long shot,” said Louie. “But, absolutely, when Jake was young I thought ‘what if?; I thought ‘oh, that would be amazing.’ When you’re day dreaming, you’re thinking ‘wouldn’t it be remarkable if he even made it to the NHL?’ But, it’s such a select group that does, it’s such a grind. I always told Jake if he was willing to sacrifice, though, with his talent.”
Jake had the tools as a kid but he was often the smallest kid on his teams.
“I knew he had jam and would take a beating to score goals because of that. I also knew pretty early that he thought the game really well. He was cerebral,” said Louie.
Louie, who played 401 NHL games, only made it to Round 2, once.
“Second round in ’97 with the Oilers. When Todd Marchant scored the game-winning goal in overtime in Dallas. When Todd won the Cup with Anaheim in ’07 we got to be in the stands as his guests. They had invited us down to stay in their house and we went in the dressing room afterwards. Yeah. I got to touch the Cup. I was done playing then,” he said.
“The superstitions of not touching it as a player had gone away. I’m not big on playoff superstitions anyway. I can remember Glenn Anderson shaved off his beard for Game 7 in 1987 against the Philadelphia Flyers and he scored the clinching goal.”
Louie’s boy has a beard now, which won’t come off until playoff’s end.
Copyright Postmedia Network Inc., 2019