By: Andrew Taverna | Follow me on Twitter: @andrewtaverna
There’s been a lot of discussion around the future of the Boston Bruins franchise and their current management structure. There isn’t much to be excited about from a fan’s perspective. It’s easy to be upset about the 2015 draft (still) or frustrated by the mediocrity we’ve seen out of the team so far this season, but there is one thing for sure, Bruce Cassidy is not the one on the hot seat. There are a few different reasons this is true, but let’s start by reviewing the problem.
The Bruins are currently in 5th place in the Atlantic Division with a 14-10-2 record and are 4-4-2 in their last 10. That record leaves a lot to be desired. In addition to that, with Bruce Cassidy in the NHL’s Covid-19 Protocol, the Bruins took five out of six points on a west coast trip under assistant coach Joe Sacco. In addition to the subpar record, there have been two trade requests from players within the organization and rumors on the radio (that turned out to be untrue) of infighting within the leadership and the coaching staff. To put the icing on the cake, you have David Backes doing radio interviews where he expressed displeasure with the “style” of hockey that Bruce Cassidy was coaching. When you add all of this together, you get an uneasy feeling as a fan base and start to ask the question, “has Bruce Cassidy lost the room?”
The Likely Scenerio
Listen, I like all of you are a fan of the team and the game, and I also want to see this organization win. That said, I find it highly unlikely that a coach like Bruce Cassidy has managed to lose the room. The first reason is simple; Patrice Bergeron already runs the room from an outsider’s perspective, and I don’t see that changing. Bergeron and the other leaders of the Bruins are often the folks recognized for saying things between intermissions and changing the tone of the games. Cassidy has acknowledged that he often lets the players handle their own business and only steps in when it comes to in-game adjustments and pre-game planning. If those are the types of things Cassidy focuses on, I find it highly unlikely his voice is the issue.
The following rebuttal will be about the Bruins’ style of play and their lack of toughness. Cam Neeley recently addressed this, and his answer was what you’d expect in 2021.
“It’s tough to compare ’11 to ’21. The game’s changed a lot since then,” said Neely. “But I think when you see when Trent Frederic’s engaged, you watch him play in Calgary and you think ‘OK, this is the player that can help contribute and bring some physicality but also bring a little skill.’ That line played really well in Calgary, so I don’t see why we can’t see that a little more from Trent. I know he’s just trying to figure out the game himself. But I don’t know if talking toughness, if you mean fighting. But just overall intimidation is something we talk about in 2011, we had that not only on the back end but you had that in the forward group, too. It’s an area we’ve discussed, if someone becomes available that can not only help you play but also bring that element, I don’t think we would be opposed to it.”Cam Neely Press Conference
The key phrase here that indicates this isn’t a Cassidy issue is “can not only help you play but also bring that element.” That “element” does not hold the same weight it used to, and David Backes can get on the radio as a retired player and complain about that, but that is also the realistic situation the league is in right now. Hockey is a skilled game now, and you have to have the skill with the toughness if you want to make it in the modern NHL. Cassidy teaches his players to play a modern game, which should not bother you. That modern game has given the Bruins a .669 points percentage and a record of 343-208-92 since taking over the helm. Let’s not forget, it’s also brought the Bruins to the very end of a cup final.
The last reason and maybe the most crucial reason Cassidy should remain behind the bench is, the current roster isn’t his fault. If you’re looking for “fault,” which I’d debate it’s too soon to do, you should be looking at the folks who construct the team. Those gentlemen would be Don Sweeney and Cam Neely. Bruce Cassidy doesn’t manage the draft, and he certainly doesn’t decide who to bring in during the off-season. If you have complaints about this year’s team, they are likely centered around the two 2015 draft picks who have requested trades or the “new” bottom six, which has put up a total of three goals. That certainly doesn’t solve your secondary scoring issues.
Bruce Cassidy Is Not Your Problem
Not only is Bruce Cassidy not your problem, but he also is not, nor should he be on the hot seat. Changes are needed with this current roster if you want to be in the playoff picture. Even more so to become a contender. All of those changes start in the front office, though. This season might be their last chance to get it right, so let’s all remember we want them to win and hope the deadline is a great one.