Pierre-Luc Dubois said everything right Sunday for fans feeling scorned a day after their Finnish phenom Patrik Laine was traded away.
The newest Winnipeg Jet told a media briefing his new city already feels like home, he’s heard nothing but good things about the organization and he’s thrilled to join a squad that was “really annoying” to face.
“It’s a team that I used to hate playing against, the combination of size and skill and work ethic, and just [being] hard to play against,” the 22-year-old said by video from Winnipeg, where he will spend two weeks quarantining before hitting the ice.
“And then you finish it off with one of the best goalies in the NHL,” he said, referring to Connor Hellebuyck. “It’s really, really annoying playing against them.”
The former Columbus Blue Jacket was dealt in a blockbuster deal for Laine on Saturday. The two forwards were at the top of the pecking order in the 2016 entry draft — Laine and Dubois were the second and third overall picks, respectively — and now they’re trading places.
In the trade, Columbus also received Jack Roslovic from the Jets, while Winnipeg will get both Dubois and a 2022 third-round draft pick.
Dubois said the Jets have a stacked forward corps. He liked what he saw when he arrived in Winnipeg late Saturday night and caught the highlights from Winnipeg’s come-from-behind 6-3 victory over Ottawa.
Plenty of forward skill
“You look at that forward group, from the first line to the fourth line, there’s a lot of depth, a lot of skill,” he said.
“You’re going to be surrounded with talented players and as a forward, that’s all you can ask for. It’s really exciting to know that I’m going to be a part of that soon.”
Dubois comes to Winnipeg disgruntled with his former team. He demanded a trade from Columbus and in his last game in the Blue Jackets uniform, last Thursday, was benched for two periods due to what his coach felt was poor effort.
He said Winnipeg fans shouldn’t dwell on the past.
“That’s something I’m moving on from,” he said.
WATCH | Rob Pizzo takes a look at the blockbuster Jets-Blue Jackets trade:
His demand for a change of scenery didn’t happen overnight, he explained, but was a long process.
“Without going into detail, I just think that sometimes you have to remain true to yourself and how you feel.”
Though he replaces a fan-favourite in Laine, Dubois said he doesn’t feel the weight of any additional pressure.
“He’s a really good player, but I have high expectations of myself,” he said. “I hold myself to a high standard and I know what kind of player I can be.”
Dubois, who tallied 66 goals and 93 assists in 239 career games, said he’ll fit right in on a team brimming with skill and size.
The native of Ste-Agathe-des-Monts, Que., knows Winnipeg well. His parents moved to the city after his father, Eric, took an assistant coaching job with the Manitoba Moose, the Jets’ AHL affiliate.
In fact, he spent much of last spring in Winnipeg while the NHL season was on hold due to the pandemic. He and his sister bought bikes to tour the city and he said he frequented De Luca’s, a specialty food store.
“It really feels good here,” he said. “Getting texts from the players, being on the phone with the organization yesterday, I have a really good feeling.”
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