His relationship with John Tortorella had been strained over the past few months. But, although his desire to leave the Blue Jackets organization stemmed from this conflict, Pierre-Luc Dubois took the road to Winnipeg without holding a grudge.
“Torts is a very demanding coach. Everything he did was to make me a better player. I would never speak ill of Torts,” said Dubois, made available via video conference. My dad always told me that when a coach is on your back, it’s because he wants you to be the best player you can be. I appreciate that.”
Despite a few months apart, the two men had not yet buried the hatchet when operations resumed a dozen days ago. Dissatisfied with the 22-year-old athlete’s performance, the controversial coach benched him for the vast majority of his last game in the Blue Jackets uniform.
Is it Truly Dubois’ Way of Playing?
The last time he was on the ice with the team that selected him third in the 2016 draft, he was a player who didn’t seem to have his heart in the right place. Was it a bad impression for his new fans in Manitoba?
“I did the math. I’ve probably made close to 6,000 appearances on the ice since my NHL debut. There’s a lot more to judge than just that one presence,” said Dubois.
Even though he refused to speak against Tortorella, it is understandable that Dubois had enough of that situation. It wasn’t for nothing that he requested a trade, as soon as his new agreement was signed ($5M per season over two years) on New Year’s Eve. A request that he assured medias that it was reflected on prior.
“It was a long reflection. It’s not something you suddenly think about one morning when you wake up. Many things happened and I won’t go into details. However, you have to be honest with yourself and your beliefs,” he explained.
Dubois leaves Columbus with a record of 159 points, including 66 goals in 239 games. An honest performance that is far, however, from fully satisfying him.
“A hockey player’s only goal is to win the Stanley Cup. I will always be disappointed that I couldn’t accomplish that with the Blue Jackets,” he said.
In fact, Dubois admitted that it was with sadness that he said goodbye to his former teammates.
“It hasn’t been an easy conversation. I loved the guys in that locker room. Many of them will remain my friends for life. Besides, a good friend always wants his friend to be happy. That was the case with them. They understood the reasons.”
A Team Made for for P-L Dubois
Dubois joins the Jets, a team that competes directly with the Canadien in the Northern division. In fact, the Canadiens was in the running for his services right up until the very end.
“I wasn’t sure where I was going to end up, but I knew that the three organizations in the race at the end (Anaheim, Montreal, Winnipeg) were three good ones. I am very happy to be here. My dad has been in the organization (assistant coach with the Manitoba Moose) for a couple of years. He has always said nothing but good things about this team.”
The 6-foot, 2-inch, 205-pound centreman has the physique of the job to play in Manitoba’s capital city, with the Jets already banking on several giants both on offence and at the blue line.
“It’s a tough team to play against. They have a good combination of speed and size. So am I. They also have a lot of depth. Whether it’s the first or the fourth trio, I’ll be surrounded by talented players. I’m looking forward to being a part of this team.”
For now, Dubois doesn’t know when he’ll be able to play his first game. If the Canadian federal government refuses to change the 14-day quarantine that is mandatory for all international travelers, he will have to wait until February 9th.
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