Senators fans showered Alex DeBrincat with boos during his first game in Ottawa as a member of the Detroit Red Wings. If that treatment bothered DeBrincat, he didn’t take the bait to say so publicly.
Maybe it helped to get the last — or at least the latest — laugh. While DeBrincat failed to record a point for the first time with Detroit, the Red Wings beat the Senators 5-2 on Saturday.
Perhaps this win (and a hot start) made it easier for DeBrincat to take the high road after the game.
"I was pretty prepared for it," DeBrincat said of being booed by Senators fans, via Ian Mendes of the Athletic. "I kind of expected it. I’ve said it a couple of times, it’s a very passionate fan base … They have a great team in there, and unfortunately things didn’t work out the way everyone wanted them to.
"But I’m happy with where I am. I know they’re going to be good for quite a long time and there’s going to be a lot of good battles between us."
Senators fans boo DeBrincat in Red Wings win
Heading into Saturday, DeBrincat revealed that he’s never been booed before, but expected it to happen in Ottawa.
While DeBrincat insisted that certain behind-the-scenes details were blown out of proportion, he said he has no hard feelings toward the Senators. But some fans clearly still have some, as did media members who believed the Ottawa faithful had "every right" to boo DeBrincat.
Former player Marc Methot hoped the team wouldn’t "coddle" DeBrincat in his return.
He’s the NHL point leader, playing for an obvious future rivalry. Make life difficult for him tomorrow. Don’t coddle him and give the guy a warm welcome!
People should remind him every time he touches the puck. This is about the Ottawa Senators, not Alex DeBrincat’s feelings.
— Marc Methot (@MarcMethot3) October 20, 2023
The Ottawa Sun’s Bruce Garrioch captured an interesting angle of fans booing DeBrincat from his first shift.
— Bruce Garrioch (@SunGarrioch) October 21, 2023
Mendes points out that the Senators presented DeBrincat with a quick welcome back message, but there wasn’t much to it — and fans booed it heartily, too.
A super quick video mention to welcome back Alex DeBrincat at midway point of first period.
PA announcer doesn’t say anything.
Crowd fills in with a chorus of boos. pic.twitter.com/OiVK3WiCKi
— Ian Mendes (@ian_mendes) October 21, 2023
Brady Tkachuk said all the right things about remaining friends with DeBrincat despite his stay being short in Ottawa. On Saturday, DeBrincat wasn’t necessarily spared from The Tkachuk Experience, though.
Brady Tkachuk cordially welcomes Alex DeBrincat back to Ottawa pic.twitter.com/8GtSuWDJgC
— Jason Gold (@JayGold85) October 21, 2023
Late in the first period, DeBrincat drew a penalty that left more than just Senators fans and media fuming.
This is now considered "roughing" in the NHL. Referees doing their best to fire extinguish an entertaining/physical game filled with hits and chirping. Don't worry about those attendance numbers!!! pic.twitter.com/GBN0VHJwxR
— BucciOT.Com (@Buccigross) October 21, 2023
Either way, the Red Wings made the Senators pay with a power play that went 3-for-5, including converting on the penalty DeBrincat drew. It’s arguable that a young Senators team allowed the emotions of DeBrincat’s return (and maybe a brewing rivalry) to get the best of them in what Tkachuk described as a "frustrating" loss.
In the long run, did the situation actually work out for everyone?
Again, this isn’t the last laugh, but instead an early chapter in a potential rivalry.
The Senators and Red Wings face off three more times in the regular season, with their next game in Detroit on Nov. 16.
Immediately, it’s easy to see why DeBrincat would see this divorce with the Senators as a win for everybody, as he’s playing close to home and starting hot in a bigger role than he likely would have with the Senators.
Ultimately, it will take years to find out who truly gets the last laugh.