January 02, 2020
CALGARY - Dillon Dube was bracing for the onslaught.
Alas, his reputation caught up with him.
When the Montreal Canadiens and their accompanying media blow into towns around the NHL, it's not uncommon for the Francophone broadcasters and scribes to search out French names for new angles.
Dube is definitely French.
Dillon definitely isn't.
"When we went to the Memorial Cup my 16-year-old year every day I got a whole bunch of media scrumming around me" said the former Kelowna Rockets star, smiling about his 2014-15 experience in Quebec City.
"They were like, 'So, do you speak French?' I'm like, 'No.'
They're like, 'Okay...' and I swear every media guy left. There were like 15 of them... gone. It was like that every day - they all thought I spoke French because of my name."
There was no such gathering around Dube from the Montreal media after morning skate Thursday, which is fine with the Cochrane kid who grew up in Golden, B.C., where there was no French immersion offered.
What the 21-year-old has brought to the table since his AHL call-up a month ago has been so integral to the team's recent turnaround that the club sent a powerful message of support to him Wednesday.
As the only forward on the Flames; roster who doesn't require waivers to make room for returning players like Sam Bennett and Austin Czarnik, Dube was well aware a return to Stockton was a possibility.
Alas, Zac Rinaldo was demoted Wednesday and the Flames risked putting Czarnik through waivers, which he cleared Thursday morning. Czarnik was subsequently assigned to Stockton, while Rinaldo was recalled to Calgary on Thursday.
"It gives me confidence not just to stick around but to play some of my best hockey to help this team win" Dube said of the vote of confidence.
"My mindset changes a bit because I'm not as worried and I can relax a little because you didn't know what was going to happen. At the same time, I cannot at all let myself go to that stage where I'm comfortable."
He's certainly looked that way since his promotion, picking up seven points in 14 games on a line with Derek Ryan and Milan Lucic that has been the team's most consistent the past month.
"My whole career, point production has been a big thing, but I've had a lot of my best games of my career with no points," said Dube, whose focus in Stockton was learning to play away from the puck, along the wall and focusing on his defensive game.
"If you can go out there and make the guys you're playing with better and bring something to the table, that's the most important thing. A couple games with Looch and Doc (Ryan) we had at the start I didn't have any points, but those were some of my best games. We all got going from playing the right way."
Lucic has since scored all three of his goals this season, Ryan is flourishing as he did late last year and the Flames have one of the most potent third lines in the league.
It will be a crucial unit against a Canadiens club that enters Thursday's game at the Saddledome as winners in five of seven and feeling good about themselves.
Much like Calgary, a team with just one goal on its two-game losing string despite piecing together its two best first periods of the season.
"For us, it' sticking with it" said Dube, a second round draft pick who captained Canada to World Junior gold in 2018.
"We need a complete 60 - if we can come out again and have a good first period, we can't let frustration set in when you don't score".
COURTESY: Eric Francis - Sportsnet