Okay, I will admit it, after reporting on the Boston Bruins since 1975, I find myself a bit confused as to what went down on Causeway Street this week. The Bruins decided that the problems following a season in which the locals won 51 games and racked up an impressive 107 points, was head coach Bruce Cassidy. With that, they terminated the guy who in his six seasons with Boston, led them to the playoffs six times, including the 7th game of the 2019 Stanley Cup Finals.
Bruins General Manager Don Sweeney is aware of the tough task ahead of him for the upcoming season. Consider that the Bruins lineup will be without several key players to begin the 2022-23 season, and includes the names of Brad Marchand, Charlie McAvoy, Matt Grzelcyk and Mike Reilly (three defensemen), not to mention the possibility of Patrice Bergeron not returning. Another thought could be the reunion with former Bruin David Krejci, not a move that necessarily would be the answer to all of the above, but still a consideration. Sweeney’s emotional opening statement at the Tuesday press conference included, “I’ll start briefly by stating that it was a very, very difficult decision yesterday. I met with Bruce in the afternoon, both professionally and personally. I want to thank him and his family, Julie, Cole and Shannon, for what they’ve really done, both on and off the ice for the Boston Bruins organization. A really tough day overall, but I had to make a decision that I felt was in the best interest of where our team was at now and moving forward.”
In regards to why this happened at this time, Sweeney responded, “The timing after taking a few weeks to unpack, a lot of things happened over the course of the year and where I thought the direction of our team was currently and equally with some of the surgeries and some of the things coming out where our team was going to be going forward and impacting our club, I just felt that the messaging and voice that was going to be required, I felt we needed a new direction.” Okay, this same team as mentioned above, managed to win 51 games – impacting our club? Reason enough to dismiss Cassidy? Sweeney added, “I felt that both the message and how it was being delivered and more importantly maybe how it was being received, you know, young and old and that’s where I reference both younger and older players and taking ownership of it as I would, and I do with where our roster’s at and the changes that I ultimately have to make. I think the players you know felt they were very well prepared but at times, young and old, they struggle, and sometimes that’s the voice that’s in their head and I think ultimately I had to make a decision that takes us in a different path.”
Bottom line, in three months, when the new season will begin, we may have answers to why this talented coach was shown the door, or if a rebuild was in fact the reason for his dismissal. Perhaps the best answer as to why 14 years of loyalty was exposed to this questionable treatment, would have been, a clear answer to be given by the front office…rebuild or some other reason?
Bergeron Wins Selke Award – On the plus side of hockey news, Patrice Bergeron won the 2022 Frank J. Selke Trophy for the fifth time, given annually to the forward who best excels in the defensive aspects of the game. Win number five was the most ever won by a player in NHL history, making Bergeron the NHL’s all-time leader, surpassing Montreal Canadiens Hall of Fame forward Bob Gainey who was selected four times. Bergeron previously won the award in 2012, 2014, 2015 and 2017, also an NHL record was Bergeron being named finalist for this award for the 11th consecutive season. It is the most consecutive seasons a player has been named a finalist for an award in NHL history, surpassing Wayne Gretzky’s 10-straight seasons as a Hart Trophy finalist. Therein lies the importance for this future Hall of Famer to return next season and don his familiar #37 jersey.