Inside Bruce Cassidy’s Last Media Encounter

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On the development of young players

May 11, 2021; Washington, District of Columbia, USA; Boston Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy talks to his team behind the bench against the Washington Capitals during the third period at Capital One Arena. (Geoff Burke/USA TODAY Sports)

It seems the #1 reason the Bruins decided to leave Bruce Cassidy, at least if we have to take Bruins general manager Don Sweeney at his word, is that the Bruins wanted a new coach who they believe can communicate with and develop young players to a more effective level.

The idea that Cassidy couldn’t and didn’t do this during his Boston run is something he clearly disagreed with, and with a few names to back it up.

“When I arrived we changed a lot of players and infused our team with a lot of young talent; Jake DeBrusk, Anders Bjork, Danton Heinen, Pasta was still young, Grzelcyk, Carlo, McAvoy,” Cassidy offered. And I think a lot of those guys left and had great careers. Some of them left here, obviously for different reasons, you’re always trying to improve your team. And then onto now more recently. Trent Frederic, we tried to integrate regularly into the programming. Jack [Studnicka]knock at the door [but] Unfortunately, we had a few veterans ahead of him, and we’ll see how it goes later for the next manager and you know how much availability there is on the roster for him. But [Jakub] Zboril was rounding the corner, Jérémy Lauzon did a great job for us [but] unfortunately we had to expose it [in the Seattle expansion draft] and that’s just part of the business, and you see [Jeremy] Swayman is growing.

“I’m very proud of my record with the youngsters.”

Given the Bruins’ expectations during this window — Boston entered the year with Stanley Cup hopes from 2018 through Cassidy’s final season in town — that seems like a healthy number for the 57-year-old.

“I think what happens is when you’re a team that’s fighting for the Stanley Cup, there’s just not as much room on the roster to put these guys on a regular basis.” , Sweeney explained. “We want guys to learn from their mistakes. It will happen. No one is perfect and we agree with that. But at the end of the day, when you’re in contention for a championship, the closer you get to it, any player, young or old, needs to make sure their game is properly tuned.

“It’s our job as staff to make them better. Head coach and assistant coaches. I honestly can’t say enough about [Jay Pandolfo]Joe Sacco, Kevin [Dean], now Chris Kelly. Like they put their heart and soul into making these guys better and hopefully at some point they appreciate that they care about the player and care about him as a person.

“And I think I fit into that category.”

But he was also aware of some problems that arose during his tenure. Jake DeBrusk asked for a trade. Anton Blidh has let it be known that he is not happy to sit in the press box for weeks. Peter Cehlarik lambasted Cassidy as he left the NHL. Guys like Trent Frederic struggled to fit in, and Jack Studnicka wanted more of an NHL look.

“Not every player is going to practice, not every player is going to connect with you,” Cassidy said. “In my next challenge, I will make sure to heed the message because I respect [Sweeney] when he talks to me about what you need to do better. He’s been in the game for a long time so that’s something I have to take with me for the next job but keep pushing the responsibility because I don’t think you have much of a team if the players aren’t not held accountable to a standard.”

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