When he became a Blue Jacket last month, Brandon Dubinsky wasted no time in coming to Columbus. Within a week of the Nash trade announcement, “Duby” was C-Bus bound. While his first trip was documented by some in the media with comments regarding his dapper style, clothing choices and appearance, I wanted to delve deeper into the player. I wanted to understand what he could bring to our club which is so desperately seeking the elusive combination of significant talent and tremendous heart.
We have learned to be cautious with new players coming to town. We’ve had brushes with great skill but lack of heart. Current naysayers have said that the Jackets that are still here from last season have all the “desire to win” in the world, but can’t back it up with elite talent. I’ve now spent the weeks since the trade with the Rangers learning more about Dubinsky, and, I also had the chance to meet him at one of the CBJ open houses. I think we just might have our man.
Dubinsky hails from Alaska, and with 6 NHL seasons under his belt, the 26 year old is sitting in the prime of his career. While he joins a new team, he stays with former Ranger linemate Artem Anisimov and reunites with Vinny Prospal. This brings team chemistry, and a new cultural standard into the Blue Jackets locker room. It also brings an attitude of winning. Check out this display of tenacity and awareness of the puck when Dubi scored the tying goal that would help propel the Rangers to a 5-3 win over the Bruins in April 2011. (Its of note that Vinny scored the first two goals to wear down the 3 goal deficit the Rangers faced).
As a player, Brandon also is the 2007 winner of the “Steven Macdonald Extra Effort Award” which is a Rangers’ team award given to “the player that goes above and beyond the call of duty” in recognition of his commitment to the team and consistent 110% on-ice effort. When he’s not scoring, Duby is consistently contributing in all aspects of game play. He will battle in the corners, almost always coming away with the puck, he’ll block shots, and while not a fighter, he won’t shy away from defending home ice or teammates. He uses his bulk well and seems to always make good things happen.
Dubi was consistently posting 40+ points per season, until last year when much was made of Dubi’s “sub-par” year. Some speculate it was “new contractitis” but Brandon was also sidelined with a foot injury – missing over a month of the regular season. It was this one year’s performance that contributed to some jeering at the Blue Jackets front office once again for a poor trade. But if you went into the heart of NHL analysts (particularly those focused on statistical analysis) in spite of this dip, post-trade reviews of Duby were glowing:
Dubinsky throws hits, wins faceoffs, plays PP and PK, plays toughest minutes but dominates possession. Scores top-6 level at even-strength.
— Rob Vollman (@robvollmanNHL) July 26, 2012
The accolades for Dubinsky didn’t just come from the press. The outcry from Rangers fans who were beyond disappointed to lose their beloved winger said a lot. Reactions were immediate: “(Brandon) represented first wave of young core players in NY and is highly thought of – with many still seeing last year’s point production as a fluke.” (HT to BlueShirts United)
Similarly, Rangers and Dubinsky fan Allyson Gronowitz shared, “In no way was trading Dubinsky a matter of addition by subtraction. New York is a better team with Rick Nash on the roster, but it is in no way a better team without Dubinsky. Even in a year when he was not lighting the lamp every night, Dubi played tough minutes against a high quality of competition and still managed to outshoot the opposing team when on the ice.” Check out this assist to Callahan…imagining something like that with say, RJ on the receiving end has me more hungry than ever for CBJ action.
And for those who commented on his personal style? Well, I will welcome anyone who helps to continue to class up the joint. Columbus is not a cow town anymore, no matter what some may want you to believe. And lest we think Brandon is just a fancy pants from New York, well there still is “The Dubstache” (and Just For Men was involved).
Upon being traded, Brandon Dubinsky said this: “I’m not going to make any statistical promises. One thing I will promise is that you’ll get the effort, the energy every night from me. I think I bring a lot of passion to the game, and I’ll help this team in a lot of areas.” It is this attitude, coupled with proven skill that has me excited to see Brandon in Union Blue. This is a good guy who takes pride in his performance on-ice and off. He comes from an atmosphere of winning and focus. He brings with him colleagues who share that mindset and dedication. Now he partners with players who believe in themselves and who are hungry to fight for respect, and more importantly, wins. I consider this to be the beginnnings of a strong, lasting foundation in Columbus.
In recognition of all that Dubi brings, the chant that often rang out in Madison Square Garden was “DUUUUUUUUUB!” I suspect we’ll be hearing that loud and often in Nationwide Arena.
Welcome to Columbus, Brandon!
[Author's note: A huge thank you goes out to the awesome Allyson Gronowitz who has been a tremendous resource for all things Dubi and a reference for material throughout this post. If you are on twitter, you should be following her to bolster your hockey knowledge!]