Bruins dismissal of Bruce Cassidy set to spark Boston rebuild | Launderer’s report
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While Patrice Bergeron may have something to say about it, it sure looks like the Boston Bruins’ window of contention is closed.
While it wasn’t closed after the Bruins lost a seven-game series to the Carolina Hurricanes in the first round of the 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs last month, it was closed on Monday when the general manager Don Sweeney has fired coach Bruce Cassidy.
The decision has been met with a mixture of anger, confusion and dismay from fans and local media, although team chairman Cam Neely hinted at the possibility of a manager change a while ago. a few weeks.
But the few weeks that have passed have led many to believe Cassidy, the Jack Adams Award winner who led the Bruins to the 2019 Eastern Conference title, was safe.
“I just felt the message and the voice that was going to be needed,” Sweeney said Tuesday morning during a press conference at the club’s training facility. “I felt we needed a new direction.”
The team was always going to take a new direction, no matter who was behind the bench. Brad Merchant recently had hip surgery and is expected to be out for six months. Captain Patrice Bergeron’s contract is over and he could opt to retire this summer.
Sweeney insisted that Bergeron had no influence on this decision.
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“No, I’ve had several conversations with Patrice about this organization during my time here. We continue to have them. He has too much respect for Bruce or me or anyone to make any recommendations on who the coach is and who he is going to play with,” Sweeney said. “We went through the same thing with Claude [Julien] where he performed and had great success. It’s more out of respect. In my conversations with him yesterday, I did not ask him if this had any impact on his decision. It’s Bergy’s decision and his schedule.”
Losing Bergeron, the 2021-22 Selke Trophy winner, would be a blow for the club, but it shouldn’t come as a shock. Last year, the Bruins lost center David Krejci and goaltender Tuukka Rask. There was always a belief that one, if not both, would return, and Rask briefly did before finally deciding to retire. There are still lingering rumors that Krejci will return after playing in the Czech Republic, and Sweeney said he has had conversations with Krejci’s side, but even if that’s the case, the roster still hasn’t. not the depth needed to compete in the Atlantic. Division next season or in the future.
The Bruins have proven to be a one-line team, and the “Perfection Line” itself might not even return. A new coach is not going to fix that.
“The question comes to Bergeron,” Sweeney said. “It’s the question of when you talk about bringing back a similar type of roster, that’s a big part of that and I still have to wait for that decision. I don’t have any clarity on that here today. , so I’m not going to fully answer the question because I don’t have that answer as I sit. Now we’re going to take a change, much like in 2015 where we instituted younger players, and we have to continue to do a good job when they are ready.”
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The pivot to young players will only help if those young players are willing to contribute every night at the NHL level, and a team that’s been in winning mode now like the Bruins isn’t necessarily full of prospects. With the exception of 23-year-old goaltender Jeremy Swayman, the young players in the NHL roster haven’t necessarily shown they’re up for it. Trent Frederic was a healthy scratch for three playoff games. Oskar Steen appeared in a match after February. Jake DeBrusk, 25, was expected to struggle without Krejci as a teammate, but enjoyed a rebounding season with 25 goals and 42 points.
Nonetheless, questions surround DeBrusk’s future. He requested a trade at the start of the season and despite signing an extension at the trade deadline, there is still a possibility that the young forward could be traded.
This brings us back to Cassidy and the front office. Neely said young players were afraid of making mistakes under Cassidy, and while that may have been the case, the developmental shortcomings cannot be blamed on the head coach.
Player development requires the establishment of processes and the correct management of resources. A club’s failure to develop young talent is systemic. Unless big deals are made, the prospect pool is not about to deepen. The club does not have a first-round or fifth-round pick in the upcoming 2022 draft and does not have a second-round pick next year.
Sweeney said he doesn’t regret giving up those picks to trade them for players like Hampus Lindholm at the trade deadline, and while he admits he might like more picks, he maintains his decision to make this sacrifice. He may have to make more sacrifices to get younger as he can’t keep the same roster and rebuild or re-equip. He can’t have it both ways.
He also admitted that the last six forwards lacked speed, skill and tenacity.
“I think it’s playing with a bit more pace, and maybe it’s in the last six,” he said. “I think we were well equipped in depth, but when some players rose to their challenges, were others able to step in and be with the group? And that’s up to me.”
Sweeney isn’t wrong that roster building is on him. As general manager, the list is under his responsibility. The coach can’t do much with the players under his care, and Cassidy has gotten a lot from a top group.
Sweeney’s job is safe. Neely said so a few weeks ago, and on Tuesday morning Sweeney said he didn’t anticipate any change in his employment status. Much of the blame can be placed on the front office, but they chose to put the blame on Cassidy.
Being a head coach in professional sports sometimes means being a pawn in the executive game. It means being the scapegoat when plans don’t go as planned, and it means little to no long-term stability.
Cassidy has become the fall guy, and now the Bruins seem to have no choice but to rebuild.
“I made the decision because I was at the place where I hired Bruce six years ago, and the same person who stands here today and says, ‘I have to make a change'” , Sweeney said. “As I mentioned, the message, the direction and some of the things don’t resonate as strongly as they did. That’s part of the exercise.”