Saturday’s blockbuster deal featuring the likes of Pierre-Luc Dubois, Patrik Laine, Jack Roslovic and a third round pick certainly gave fans, players and those in hockey management positions something to talk about. The players involved in the trade then were given an opportunity to speak out.
Laine and Roslovic spoke at length on Saturday afternoon about their thrill of moving to Columbus, while Dubois held his media availability with Winnipeg late Sunday morning. Although his final few weeks with the Blue Jackets were nothing short of miserable, his new home city is one he is already familiar with.
“I’m excited for this new chapter,” Dubois told Full Press on Sunday. “This new opportunity with a new team, a new coaching staff, a new organization, new fans.. it’s really exciting. These past 24 hours have been really crazy, but the opportunity to come here and help this forward group, help the D, as the centre to help everybody out and learn from the coaching staff, from the players here – guys like Wheeler and Scheifele – how I look at it is that this could be an amazing opportunity to help an already really good team and to become a new and better player.”
Having had to deal with an angry John Tortorella in Columbus for the past number of years finally got to the 22-year-old and a formal trade request was filed. And according to Dubois, it wasn’t a decision he took lightly.
“It wasn’t just one morning you woke up and felt differently,” he reflected. “There’s a lot of stuff that happens, and without going into detail, I just think that sometimes you have to remain true to yourself and how you feel and how you think. I thought that as negotiations were going forward, you start to think about more things and start to have more conversations. I wanted to remain true to myself, true to the team there, to the fans and my teammates. That was a decision I took.”
The two-way centerman will look to find a place on a highly-offensive Jets forward group, that already consists of Mark Scheifele and Paul Stastny down the middle.
“It’s a team that I used to hate playing against,” Dubois said of the Jets. “The combination of size and skill and work ethic. It’s just hard to play against, and then you finish it off with one of the best goalies in the NHL. It’s really annoying playing against them, and to be able to play for them now, to play on the other side of it, the combination of size and skill is something I have, too, and it will be a perfect fit. It’s such a good team and I think the time to adapt won’t be too hard.”
Having travelled to Winnipeg by private charter Saturday evening, Dubois will now undergo the mandatory 14-day quarantine. Despite being placed into this new environment on his own, the newest member of the Jets says he already has much support in this process.
“I talked yesterday to Paul (Maurice) and Kevin (Cheveldayoff) and they said they want me to be a part of the meetings,” he said. “They’re going to try and do something on Zoom so I can be a part of the team meetings. I’m going to be watching all the games, trying to do some video on the forecheck, learn everything, learn tendencies for players so when the games start and when I get to practice, I haven’t missed a beat. The quarantine, obviously, maybe the physical part is a bit challenging but there is always ways to get ready and I’m willing to do whatever it takes to be ready for that first practice and for that first game.”
‘Dubois’ shouldn’t be a brand new name to Jets fans, as Pierre-Luc is the son of Eric Dubois – a former professional hockey player and current coach of Winnipeg’s American Hockey League farm club, the Manitoba Moose.
“Ever since my dad got the job with the Moose he’s been talking nothing but good words about the organization as a whole,” he said with a smile. “My dad has been here for four or five years and every time we’d come to play against the Jets, I’d always go out with my parents. I spent my quarantine here almost a year ago. It already feels like home. I’m getting texts from the players, I was on the phone with the organization yesterday. I have a really good feeling. Right now I’m really just concentrating on these next two weeks of quarantine and starting the season with them. I’m just really excited to be a part of this organization that I’ve heard nothing but good things about.”
During his time in Columbus, Dubois found the net 66 times and accumulated 159 regular season points. He also set many scoring records previously held by former captain and Blue Jackets legend Rick Nash. But according to the 6-foot-3, 220-pound forward, none of that really matters.
“Those small accomplishments and records and stuff like that are great,” Dubois said. “But really, as hockey players, the only important thing is to win. I’m disappointed that we couldn’t do that as a team in Columbus. But I met amazing people and I learned a lot from those people – whether it’s on the ice or off the ice. The players and staff there, I will never forget them. There are a lot of relationships I’ll have for the rest of my life. I think Columbus made me a better person and a better player. I grew a lot there, from when I got drafted to the moment I got traded. It ended how it ended, but how it ended will never change how I feel about Columbus or the players or anything like that.”
Now able to collect his thoughts and prepare for the remainder of the 2020-21 season from his socially-distanced quarantine setup in town, Dubois can fully focus on turning the page on a new chapter of his hockey-playing career in Winnipeg.
“It’s been a really fun learning experience,” he said. “For the week to end with a trade to this organization, it’s been a great way to end the week. Now I have two weeks to get ready, to watch games, to watch film, to learn everything about the systems. And once that two weeks ends I’ll be ready. I’m looking forward to getting to know the city more. I’m looking forward to meeting my teammates but I’m really excited for this new chapter.”