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Brule Eager for Fresh Start with Coyotes

by Dave Vest / Arizona Coyotes
Center Gilbert Brule is expected to make his debut with the Coyotes tonight vs. the Detroit Red Wings after being claimed off re-entry waivers from the Edmonton Oilers on Tuesday.

Brule, 25, is embracing the sudden change of scenery.

Gilbert Brule
“It’s very exciting,” Brule told “The second I found out I was claimed by Phoenix I was very happy. It means a fresh start on a new team, and another opportunity to play in the NHL, which is obviously what we all strive for. I’m very happy to be back up here. Obviously, one of my dreams growing up as a hockey player was to play in the NHL. It’s a tough road, not only to get here but to stay here. I’ve been up and down in the minors and sticking with it and battling through it, and I’m very happy to get another opportunity here.”

The Columbus Blue Jackets selected Brule with the sixth overall pick of the 2005 NHL Entry Draft. Since then, he’s played 263 NHL games (for Columbus and Edmonton). Hampered by various injuries, he played just 41 games last season for the Oilers and was in the American Hockey League this season until Tuesday when the Oilers tried to recall him.

Needing depth up front, the Coyotes claimed him.

“Gilbert is very hungry to return to NHL play so we expect to see him at his best,” Coyotes General Manager Don Maloney said. “He is still a young player with a nice combination of skill and competitiveness. We believe he can provide us with some secondary scoring.”

Brule said he has learned that to stay in the NHL he needs to make an impact in every game, not just some.

“I think the one thing every NHL player tries to be is a consistent player,” Brule said. “Whatever your role is on the team, you have to do that every single night, and not be kind of a roller-coaster player going up and down. I think I’ve had some good games in the NHL but then sometimes I didn’t follow it up with a game like the game before, and that’s all about consistency. It’s a huge challenge.”

I play a pretty tenacious game. I like to knock it up in the corners and I like to hit, and especially for my size I feel like I throw the body around pretty well. - Gilbert Brule
A few friendly faces greeted Brule when he showed up in the Coyotes dressing room for the first time at Wednesday’s practice in Detroit. He played with defenseman Rostislav Klesla in Columbus and forward Marc-Antoine Pouliot in Edmonton. He also knows center Kyle Chipchura from Team Canada’s World Junior camps and the Western Hockey League.

At the urging of captain Shane Doan, Brule lead the team’s on-ice stretch before Wednesday’s practice.

“That was very cool,” Brule said. “It was kind of nice to feel like I was part of the team right away.”

Regarding injuries, Brule said he has accepted that they are just part of the game.

“It’s not an easy league to play in,” he said, “there’s a lot of big boys here and it’s a very physical game, one of the toughest games in the world, I think. I’m just happy to be healthy right now and that’s one of the things I need to do - stay healthy.”

Brule, who is 5-feet-11 and 187 pounds, will enter tonight’s game with 38 goals and 43 assists on his NHL resume.

“I love having control of the puck, especially if it’s not just me, but I rely on whoever is out on the ice to be controlling the puck and controlling the pace of the game,” Brule said. “I play a pretty tenacious game. I like to knock it up in the corners and I like to hit, and especially for my size I feel like I throw the body around pretty well.”

Photo by Getty Images.
For those who don’t know, Brule made headlines not too long ago when he and his girlfriend picked up U2 lead singer Bono as he hitchhiked in western Canada. As a thank you, Bono gave the couple tickets to the U2 concert in Edmonton the next night and even mentioned what they did for him during the concert.

“I still don’t know how it happened,” Brule recalled. “It’s so crazy, to think that he was actually in my car. It was awesome because we got to see the show and got to go backstage and see him again. It’s an experience that I’ll never forget for the rest of my life. It’s very cool how it happened. It was almost like it was staged.”

Brule said he was just a casual U2 fan at the time but the experience was surreal nonetheless.

“He was probably in our car for about 10 minutes,” Brule said. “It was just a short drive. Everyone asked me afterward if I got pictures of him or anything like that, but I think I was so in awe that I just wanted to talk to him and be kind of normal. He was very talkative. It was very cool.”

EDITOR'S NOTE: Click here to see more about Brule meeting Bono from a CTV news report.
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