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DeBrincat anticipating boos in return to Ottawa

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Alex DeBrincat has never been booed before in his life, but he expects that to change when the Detroit Red Wings visit the Ottawa Senators on Saturday afternoon.

"If that's what they need to do, that's fine," DeBrincat told The Athletic's Ian Mendes. "They are just passionate fans in Ottawa. And they just want what's best for their team."

The Senators acquired DeBrincat in a trade with the Chicago Blackhawks in the 2022 offseason. Almost exactly a year afterward, Ottawa flipped him to the Red Wings.

"I never asked for a trade," DeBrincat said. "I said I wasn't going to sign long term. And they took that as writing on the wall."

DeBrincat was a restricted free agent this past summer, but he could've accepted his one-year qualifying offer and walked to unrestricted free agency in 2024 - a risk the Sens weren't willing to take.

The 5-foot-8 sniper endured a down season by his standards in his lone year in Canada's capital. The two-time 40-goal scorer tallied 27 goals, 39 assists, and a minus-31 rating during his time there. It didn't help that the team missed the playoffs for the sixth straight year despite entering the campaign with high expectations that were raised by DeBrincat's acquisition.

Additionally, a report surfaced in September that DeBrincat, a left winger, was unhappy playing behind team captain Brady Tkachuk on Ottawa's depth chart. DeBrincat denied the rumor.

"Through the trade process, a lot of things that were put out there were not necessarily what was actually going on behind closed doors," he explained.

DeBrincat believes his departure has worked out as well as possible for everyone involved. For the Farmington Hills, Michigan, native, he received a chance to go home and play for his boyhood team. The Red Wings are off to a 3-1-0 start and DeBrincat has been an offensive catalyst, producing five goals and three helpers.

"I had to do what was best for my family," DeBrincat said. "And I think a lot of people in the same situation would have done the same thing."

The Senators are making out fine without DeBrincat, as they're also 3-1-0 to start the year. However, forward Dominik Kubalik - the key player Ottawa received in exchange for DeBrincat - has yet to record a point.

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