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Son's NHL debut for Bruins 'overwhelming' for DeBrusk

Father of rookie forward thankful for support after emotional reaction to goal

by Amalie Benjamin @AmalieBenjamin / Staff Writer

BOSTON -- The moment itself was overwhelming, when a dream was realized with a son's first NHL game and first NHL goal, a father tearing up as he watched everything the kid had worked for coming to fruition. The week following has been just as overwhelming, with the hockey community reacting, with congratulations, acknowledgements and encouragements.

It was a week ago that forward Jake DeBrusk introduced himself when former NHL player and current Sportsnet analyst (his father) Louie DeBrusk knuckled tears out of his eyes on the Oct. 5 game broadcast when the Boston Bruins opened their season against the Nashville Predators. And since, Louie DeBrusk has heard from just about everyone, from former teammates and former opponents to people involved in his and his son's and his family's lives.

"It's been overwhelming, too, but it's been great," Louie DeBrusk, who played 11 NHL seasons from 1991-03, said Tuesday. "It's a real small community, the hockey community, and I think anybody that's come across our family and come across Jake as a player in any capacity -- I was getting text messages and tweets from old teachers that he had when he was grade 2 or 3, things like that. 

"I think that's been the biggest message from people: It makes them think about their own children and their own parents. It's not just a hockey thing, it's a father-son thing, it's a family thing. Many, many people relate to that -- it hit home." 

This hadn't exactly been Louie DeBrusk's plan, though. He had been leery at the idea of cameras on him and his family during the game, not wanting to put too much pressure on Jake, not wanting to steal any of the spotlight. But when Jake gave the OK, it was decided. 

And that gave rise to one of the more heartwarming -- and, more than that, relatable -- moments in the first week of the 2017-18 NHL season. 

Video: NSH@BOS: DeBrusk scores in NHL debut, dad tears up

It had all hit Louie DeBrusk in that instant, the years of early-morning skates and long drives, of teams made and not made, of frustrations and triumphs, of his son being told he was too small or too weak or too something. Here they were, after all that Jake DeBrusk had done to put himself in position for exactly this: his first game as an NHL player.  

Jake had just scored, a nifty little flick that beat Predators goaltender Pekka Rinne, when the camera panned to his father. The elder DeBrusk wiped away tears from his eyes, giving a little shrug. 

It was a moment that resonated. It was fathers and sons. It was family. It was relief and delight, happiness and love. 

"I've always been kind of an emotional guy," Louie DeBrusk said. "I cried when he scored his first goal in hockey, period. It took him some time. He didn't score right away when he was a kid, it took a little while, and I was happy for him. I don't know -- I guess I'm just an emotional guy and I was happy at first and really excited, and then it all just hit me." 

He couldn't help it. 

When Jake DeBrusk was told of what had happened, he thought the TV reporter was kidding. His dad? Tears? Couldn't be. 

It was in the second intermission of the game, and DeBrusk was scheduled for an interview with Alex Kraemer on NESN. He had already scored his first goal and his first assist, in a game in which the Bruins' rookies would take over, with defenseman Charlie McAvoy scoring his first and forward Anders Bjork getting an assist. 

"She told me, 'Hey, just so you know, your dad was tearing up a bit,'" Jake DeBrusk recalled, still with a tinge of incredulity. "'He was crying'. I was like, 'Wow, thank you for telling me that before I see it everywhere.'" 

And that was where the clip went: everywhere.

Video: Joe McDonald on Bruins start and young players

"After the game, I was giving it to him a little bit," said Jake DeBrusk, who has two points through the first three games of the season. "It's funny, he was a tough guy when he was playing and I've never seen him cry before, so to see him tear up a little bit was something new for me personally and it blew up on the Twitters and the Instagrams.

"You could see it -- he couldn't really hide it. It's one of those things that we're probably going to talk about for a long time to come. It's a good family moment." 

His father wasn't the only one in attendance at Jake's first game. His mother, sister, girlfriend and grandmother were all there, next to Louie DeBrusk, something that Jake called, "Just pretty amazing. A once-in-a-lifetime kind of thing." 

But it was the father whose reaction was caught on camera and played and shared over and over again. And thus was born a moment that they will have forever, that they will be able to look back on and cherish and remember, tears and all. 

"I'm just really happy for him," Louie DeBrusk said. "That's really all I can say is that I'm proud of him and I'm happy for him and I just want him to continue working hard, continue having success. That's really what anybody wants for their children."

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