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Canadiens Trade Talk

Murphy: Dubois In Damage Control; Downplays Agent’s Comments

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NHL Trade

If you saw Winnipeg Jets centre Pierre-Luc Dubois’ Zoom call with the media Monday and as a result, now don’t believe the recent NHL trade and free agent rumours that he would love to play for the Montreal Canadiens by the 2024-25 NHL regular season at the latest, then I have some oceanfront property in Manitoba to sell you.

Sorry, but in the eyes of this longtime (21 years), puck scribe, that was damage control 101 and for now, Dubois wants to make sure he is in good standing with his teammates and Winnipeg Jets fans for the upcoming 2022-23 season. Skeptical Jets fans should remain skeptical and Canadiens fan hoping to see a 1-2 punch up the middle of Nick Suzuki and Dubois or even one of Suzuki-Dubois-Kirby Dach, should remain hopeful.

On July 13, Dubois’ and one of the greatest and smartest NHL agents ever in Pat Brisson, told my friend and longtime NHL and Montreal Canadiens analyst Louis Jean on TVA Sports the following:

“Montreal is a city he would probably … I can talk about it because he doesn’t have a contract at the moment — he’s a restricted free agent,” Brisson told TVA Sports in French on July 13. “Montreal is a place, a city he’d like to play in. That’s all I can say about that.”

Reminder that, at the time, Dubois was a restricted free agent and reportedly, had already indicated to the Jets that he intends to test unrestricted free agency – if he reaches it as a Winnipeg Jet – when he’s eligible in 2024.

On Monday, Dubois downplayed Brisson’s comments and even tried to spin it on the media as for why they and fans took Brisson’s words at face value.

“I think people took a little thing and blew it up times 20, and it’s fine. People can read into it what they want,” Dubois said of Brisson’s comments as he tried quell the rampant NHL trade rumours surrounding him this month. “To be honest, I didn’t think anything too much of it. What’s said sometimes and what actually happens and what’s actually being said in these meetings can be taken out of context and that’s how I see it. I just thought it was overblown, the reaction, and I think some people just ran with the two seconds that they liked or didn’t like to hear.

I understand that’s your guys’ job at the same time. And, when I don’t give you much, it’s easier to speculate on what I want and what I don’t want. Nowadays with social media it goes so fast. Articles come out every second, and some of them are 99 per cent wrong. You still read it and still wonder if it’s true. There’s been a lot, a lot, a lot of speculation. So now I’m finally happy you get to hear it from me, from the source. The man himself.”

Dubois went on and tried to downplay it even more by pointing out that NHLers typically do express a desire to play for their hometown team at some point in their careers and especially when they’re technically a free agent just as Pierre-Luc Dubois was a restricted free agent until signing a $6 million qualifying offer from the Jets this past Friday.

“Yeah. See, just right there, the question was ‘is Montreal a market he’d like to play in one day’, and he (Brisson) said maybe it’s a place he would see himself playing in,” Dubois said. “He never said…your question was what was blown out of proportion, him saying did you want to play for the Canadiens. He said it’s a place that, maybe one day, he could play. I think people took that and blew it up times 10 and said he’s trying to force this, he’s trying to force that.

If you asked any player that comes from a city that grew up watching a team in their city or province, yeah, they probably at some point in their life thought of that option. It’s no different than guys from Winnipeg or guys from Washington or guys from Boston or guys from Los Angeles. It’s no different than that. Sometimes it happens. Sometimes it doesn’t. That’s just life.”

Just prior to Brisson’s comments, Radio-Canada reporter Martin Leclerc confirmed that Dubois was at the NHL Draft and reported he was there with the expectation that he would be traded to the Canadiens then. The Athletic later reported that the deal fell through because the Canadiens were unwilling to part with a certain player that the Jets wanted in the trade.

Note: According to one NHL executive source who has inquired, the Canadiens had already made it clear to Jets general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff and every other NHL GM, that Nick Suzuki and Cole Caufield ‘were basically untouchable’ so Cheveldayoff didn’t even ask. Not surprisingly, according to this same source, 2022 top overall NHL Draft pick Juraj Slafkovsky is as well. As for who the player was? The guess here is that it was Kaiden Guhle.

A few days after that, Montreal Canadiens general manager Kent Hughes didn’t do anything to quell the NHL trade rumours linking the Canadiens and Dubois.

“If we had the means to acquire a big centre who is established in the NHL,” Hughes said when asked about the Dubois to the Canadiens NHL trade rumours. “For sure we would have an interest.”

Dubois, 24, was asked about his presence at the 2022 NHL Draft at the Bell Centre as well. He summed it up as him simply being a hockey fan that was gifted a suite to hang with his family and friends at an NHL Draft, something he did frequently growing up as a Canadiens and NHL fan from Ste-Agathe-Des-Monts, Quebec.

Before he switched to the French portion of the Zoom call Monday, Dubois was given a chance to reassure he is completely happy still playing for the Jets and that the NHL trade rumours of him wanting to return home and play for the Canadiens were truly overblown. He did not give any indication that they really were. Instead he danced around the topic as if he was a seasoned politician.

“I understand what you’re saying, but I’m pretty sure you’ve, at some point, changed your mind or not been sure about something in your life,” Dubois said of the speculation. “Who knows, a year later, maybe six months later, maybe 30 minutes later, you change your mind or you’ve thought of something different or you’ve thought of a different idea. Look, I don’t even know what I’m eating tonight at dinner. I don’t know what I’m going to do in two years. I don’t know what I’m going to do in six years.

I don’t know what I’m going to do in six months. There are a bunch of different opinions and there are a bunch of different ways of thinking. I’m not somebody that has one idea and settles on it for the next six years. It’s just human nature to change your mind sometimes. That’s why I get you guys have articles to write, but these questions, sometimes these questions, the answers to the questions aren’t as easy as yes or no.”

By no means am I knocking Dubois for any of this and I think those last comments there were as honest as you can get, but he’s absolutely right that we have articles to write and it appears Dubois, (not the media creating it) will be providing more content when it comes to him coming home and some day playing for the Montreal Canadiens.

 

 

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