The age of digital and social media makes it nearly impossible to stay away from rumors, and Brandon Dubinsky knew that smoke could eventually turn into fire.
His name had been tossed about in the New York media as a trade candidate several times in the last few seasons, but it never bothered Dubinsky because his first preference has always been to show up, play hard, and do his job. It has earned him a reputation as a strong, two-way forward that knows one flight path: north-to-south.
But he's willing to make a concession as he moves east-to-west in joining the Blue Jackets. Monday's trade between Columbus and the New York Rangers was the culmination of six months of trade discussions, countless rumors and a never-ending downpour of speculation. The 26-year-old took it all in stride, and he's already locked in on helping the Blue Jackets become a regular guest in the win column.
"When you spend eight years with one team, you build a lot of relationships and friendships, and when your world is suddenly turned upside down it's not always the easiest thing," Dubinsky told BlueJackets.com. "With that being said, I'm really excited for the opportunity and to go to a team that wants me and be a part of a young group of guys are energetic, enthusiastic and wants to win.
"We're trying to get Columbus back to what it hasn't had recently and that's a competitive team, and we're going to work hard to do so."
Dubinsky will not be making the transition alone, either. Rangers teammate Artem Anisimov -- who was frequently Dubinsky's line mate in New York -- was another key piece of the trade that landed Rick Nash in the Big Apple. Those two played parts of two seasons with Vinny Prospal, who has become a leader in the Columbus dressing room while also being one of the club leaders in points a year ago.
Prospal had a strong influence on the Blue Jackets' young players during his first season in Columbus, and Dubinsky said it was no different from the time they spent together with the Rangers. A few years ago, Dubinsky and Anisimov were young players in the NHL who benefitted from the presence of Prospal -- who Dubinsky described as the ideal role model for emerging pro hockey players.
"The first thing that stands out about Vinny is his youthful enthusiasm," Dubinsky said. "He's always a fun guy to be around; you forget sometimes that he's been around for so long and he's an older guy. The easiest word to describe him is 'a gamer.' He's always one of the hardest-working guys in practice and he's always prepared to play every night. I think those are two things that young guys can learn from.
"What makes Vinny special is his love for the game and how much he truly enjoys being out on the ice -- I think that's what has allowed him to play at a high level for so many years. He loves coming to the rink every day, and he takes care of himself in a way that allows him to perform at the highest level. Those are things that you can not only learn from, but be inspired by, as well."
A native of Anchorage, Alaska, Dubinsky has spent many years participating in the USA Hockey program and developed a friendship with Blue Jackets defenseman Jack Johnson. Dubinsky also represented the United States during two IIHF World Championship tournaments, where he was Nick Foligno's roommate in Germany (2010) and a teammate of defenseman James Wisniewski.
"Even though you know in the back of your head that it could happen, you never really prepare for it and think it's going to happen until it does," Dubinsky said. "Now it has sunk in and I've had to the opportunity to speak with the management in Columbus and talk to some of my new teammates.
"Some of the guys have reached out to me, and I have some previous relationships with a few of them. I'm excited; I'm excited to get there, to be part of that team and be part of that locker room."
It appears that Dubinsky will fit right in with the Blue Jackets; GM Scott Howson and the management staff have been active in their pursuit of big, fast, competitive, two-way hockey players in an effort to reshape the roster -- and you can add the word "versatile" to describe Dubinsky. He played both center (won 52 percent of his draws last season) and left wing with the Rangers, and stands a strong chance to return to the middle of the ice in Columbus.
Regardless of where he slots into the lineup or which position he plays, Dubinsky made it clear that his No. 1 goal is to be a major contributor to a winning Blue Jackets hockey club.
"I feel comfortable playing center or playing the wing," Dubinsky said. "The last couple of years, I've mostly played the wing but I've taken a lot of face-offs and I enjoy doing that. I think I can help the team in that way; center was the position I played my whole life up until a couple of years ago, so it's definitely going to be nice to play center again if that's what happens.
"But like I said, I'm going to do whatever Todd (Richards) wants and what the staff asks me to do. I'll be right there to answer the bell."