Brenden Dillon – AKA: the Winnipeg Jets’ newest defenceman – will certainly have a story to tell any time he gets asked about his craziest moment as a professional hockey player… through the 2021 offseason, at least.
It was a Monday night in late July, and the Washington, DC resident had finally opted to take up the long-standing invitation from a neighbour to join the nearby late-night, beer league ice time, set for roughly 9:45 PM.
Having weaseled his way out of each of the invitations to that point, the every day, NHL rearguard knew that Monday’s skate was the final outing of the season. Having originally committed to at least one skate, he felt the inner need to break out his Washington Capitals socks, pants, gloves and helmet for a little game of “four-on-ones” as he called it.
It just so happened that his trade from the Capitals to the Winnipeg Jets went down while he was on the ice.
“It was a later ice-time, as you can imagine being on a Monday night,” Dillon said on Tuesday afternoon. “And sure enough, I got off the ice and just as everyone is winding down, one of the guys checked his Twitter or Instagram and next thing you know you look at your phone and there’s a couple missed calls, and off we go.”
Although well-known across the league as a heavy hitter and solid defensive defenceman, Dillon, a 6-foot-4, 230-pound blueliner was able to kick back and relax with some sub-par competition… that is, until the ice-time came to an end.
Brenden Dillon says he was out playing some beer league hockey with some neighbours when he found out about the trade post-game.
— Carter Brooks (@CBrooksie84) July 27, 2021
“Of course, last night was the last one of the summer, where he had been begging me for weeks on end,” Dillon laughed. “I don’t know if we were keeping score. I know there wasn’t a lot of back-checking going on, so I was working on my three- and four-on-ones for most of it. Again, it’s been great. I think that’s the thing, when you go to different cities and different teams. You make friends, you meet people that you keep in touch with over the years. At the same time, it was probably a night I’ll remember for sure.”
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Of course, when signing a four-year contract for $15.6 million, one would typically imagine to stay with the team in the city to which he signed. But not in the case of Brenden Dillon.
“Yeah, well it is unfortunate, but I know there is a guy by the name of Mr. Ovechkin who needs a new contract this summer,” Dillon said of the Capitals’ front office. “He’s done a heck of a lot for the franchise in Washington, and not just that but for the game of hockey and the NHL. Those are conversations that I am not a part of when it comes to management and him. I know for Washington, they are a cap team, and it’s trying to win the Stanley Cup every year. So with that comes decisions and this was obviously a route that they chose to go down.”
Dealt to Winnipeg for two second-round selections (2022 and 2023), Dillon will slot in nicely on a defence corps that has been the subject of much abuse – both from opponents and fans of the club.
“For me as a player, you kind of take that with a chip on your shoulder,” he said. “You want to go to that new team and prove them right. I think that for Chevy bringing me in, I want to do everything I can to be the best Brenden Dillon and the best Winnipeg Jet I can be… Coming to a team like Winnipeg, there’s a work ethic there. Talking to coach earlier today, with Paul, he’s got a great black and white plan. It’s definitely easy to see why they’ve had success over there the last couple of years. I hope, for myself, I can be a big piece of the puzzle and make the team better at the end of the day.”