Pierre-Luc Dubois isn’t going anywhere – at least not yet.
On Monday he spoke with local media on the thought of returning to Winnipeg, potentially leaving for Montreal and nearly everything in between. Despite some hostility and a number of vague responses to pointed questions, the 24-year-old did make it clear that the Jets are a team he is looking forward to suiting up for this coming season.
“I’m a Winnipeg Jet and I’m really looking forward to playing this year,” Dubois shared. “Last year was a disappointing year for the team and we have a lot of the same guys this year. My whole focus right now, as we speak right now, I worked out this morning to get ready this morning and tomorrow I’m going back in the gym and the rest of the summer, just to concentrate on getting ready for training camp and to prepare for this year.”
His status as a Restricted Free Agent means he is under the Jets’ control until the summer of 2024 when he is 26 years old. At that point, if no longer under contract by Winnipeg (or any other franchise), he could test the open market and find a place to play for the short or long-term future.
“After the season ended, me and my agent started talking (about) different situations and different scenarios and we felt that at this time, the one-year deal, I think, was the way that we wanted to go,” he said. “You hear so many things that I apparently said or I apparently did and a lot of it is frustrating to read some things that I didn’t even know that I did – or I didn’t do or I didn’t say. But at this time, the one-year deal, the qualifying offer, was the way that we wanted to go. There was never a doubt of holding out or forcing anything. You read stuff, like ‘he wants out of Winnipeg.’ If I wanted out of Winnipeg I would have asked for a trade. I didn’t ask for a trade. There was no doubt in my mind that I was going to show up for camp.”
Indicating he has no problem with the NHL’s design of team control for a player’s first seven years, Dubois did hear many of the rumours this summer related to his apparent desire to suit up for his hometown team. But according to the youngster, he doesn’t look that far into the future on any given day.
“You never know what might happen. There are so many things on the table, so many things that could happen,” Dubois said on his future. “I’ve signed my contract with Winnipeg and I look forward to the season starting, that’s all I’m thinking about right now. I’m not thinking about next year, I’m not thinking about two years from now. I’m only thinking about preparing myself to play this season with the Jets… In the hockey world, it moves fast, decisions sometimes need to be made very quickly, so we try not to speculate too much on what might happen in a year or two.”
The thought first became public knowledge via Dubois agent Pat Brisson, who indicated his client would prefer to play out the duration of his career back home in Quebec.
Dubois attempted to clarify some of the uncertainties surrounding Brisson’s remarks.
“The question was, is Montreal a market he’d like to play in one day, and he (Pat Brisson) said maybe it’s a place he would see himself playing in,” Dubois clarified. “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. At the end of the day, I think those comments were just blown out of proportion.”
PLD: "If I wanted out, I would have asked for a trade. I didn't ask for a trade. It didn't cross my mind for one second to ask for a trade."
— Carter Brooks (@CBrooksie84) July 25, 2022
Although specifically stating three times in his availability that he did not want out of Winnipeg nor ask for a trade, his body language did indicate that he would, in fact, have interest in joining Montreal if given the opportunity.
“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 (playing for their hometown team). 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.”
With a focus on the 2022-23 season, Dubois does have excitement for his new coach and old teammates as his attention has turned to furthering the year he had with the Jets last season.
“It was a good call,” Dubois said of his conversation with new head coach Rick Bowness. “We talked about being ready for camp, our excitement for this season and to try and add to my game and to try to become the best player that I can be. I was excited. I think everybody on our team is. I was talking to the guys on our team and everybody is excited for this season. We know the expectations for us are high and we will try to enjoy it as much as we can.”
With high expectations come high responsibility – or something like that, right?
“Like I said, I’ve been in the gym 90 percent of the summer, so I haven’t done much to influence anybody or anything.”