Jake DeBrusk, one of the many players at Memorial Cup with an NHL bloodline | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Jake DeBrusk, one of the many players at Memorial Cup with an NHL bloodline

May 24, 2016 - 4:49 PM

RED DEER, Alta. - Jake DeBrusk was already grabbing headlines away from his father at the age of six.

The Red Deer Rebels forward, son of former NHL player Louie DeBrusk, grew up idolizing his dad and would accompany him to the arena whenever he could. Now 19 years old, DeBrusk has trouble recalling most of those early memories, but he remembers one particular moment when he was the centre of attention at an NHL rink.

"I just remember pictures of me in the locker-room, I was in the front page news in the (local newspaper) for a bleeding nose from playing mini hockey in the room and I was like, 'Hey I made the paper.'"

NHL bloodlines run deep at the 2016 Memorial Cup, with seven players who have fathers that once laced up their skates at the top level.

DeBrusk, a Boston Bruins first-round pick from 2015, first started going to the arena with his father when Louie was playing for the Coyotes in 2000.

Louie DeBrusk isn't the only member of that Coyotes team to have a son in this year's Memorial Cup. Goaltender Sean Burke's son Brendan and forward Keith Tkachuk's son Matthew play for the London Knights.

"It was awesome growing up, I was always around the locker room, going to games — it was one of the best times of my life," said Burke. "When you're younger those guys are your heroes."

Tkachuk agrees that having access to an NHL locker-room as a child had its perks as it helped him understand what it takes to make it to the top before most kids his age even had a clue.

"Every time you have a chance to go to the rink with your dad and see NHL players and the way they treat themselves on and off the ice, it shows you there's a lot more to it and I learned that (young)," said the 18-year-old draft-eligible forward.

"My dad was playing, I spent a lot of time with my mom because he was gone a lot," Tkachuk added. "There are stories of her putting me on the ice when I was two, so not only my dad but my mom had a huge part in my development too."

Being the son of an NHL player can also have a downside when coming up through minor hockey. DeBrusk remembers that sometimes he was targeted by the opposition, and even parents, because his father was a pro hockey player.

"When I was first growing up a little bit, your buddies parents are talking about your dad and stuff but you get used to it… when I first got in the (WHL) I had fight offers right away," said DeBrusk, whose father racked up 1,161 penalty minutes in 401 NHL games.

"(My dad) didn't want me to get into hockey at first but I wanted to be like him so bad," he added. "I just think he didn't want me to feel forced into a game, but I fell in love with it early and he says I never had a stick out of my hand."

DeBrusk is one of three players on the Rebels with an NHL connection. Forwards Ivan Nikolishin and Adam Musil grew up with NHL fathers, as did London forward Max Jones and Brandon Wheat Kings forward Nolan Patrick. Patricks' uncle James is also currently an assistant coach with the Dallas Stars.

"It's pretty cool, I'm really lucky, he's my dad No. 1, but he's (also) my biggest fan," said DeBrusk.

News from © The Canadian Press, 2016
The Canadian Press

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