It was the 73rd postseason game of Cassidy’s coaching tenure here, and the end result once again revealed the Bruins for what they are: a team, as built by Sweeney and Neely, with no enough pieces to last more than a round or two in the NHL. playoffs. Cassidy took the fall for their collective shortcoming.
Specifically, their building a roster short of moxie score, lacking in speed, and lacking in the requisite grit necessary when the playing temperature rises in the spring.
According to the press release, Sweeney will address the media in Brighton on Tuesday at 8 a.m., during which he will be asked to detail why he chose to jettison a manager who led an average team in 0.672 percentage points. in 399 regular season games. behind the Black and Gold bench.
However, it would be contrary to Sweeney to provide a great deal of detail. Since taking office in the spring of 2015 following the dismissal of Peter Chiarelli, he has been the least communicative general manager in the club’s history. Once upon a time here Harry Sinden was one of the most colorful, quotable and sometimes cantankerous GMs in all of sport. Now the MO is at 5 p.m. Friday news releases for updates on significant medical procedures performed on gaming staff – see: the last two Fridays – then at 7 p.m., “Oh, hey, we have did a deep-six with the coach and we’ll talk about that tomorrow.
Terrifyingly weak tea for a franchise that always loves to go back to its Big, Bad legacy.
In the press release, Sweeney, Neely, and executive son Charlie Jacobs all issued boilerplate quotes expected in such situations. They thanked Cassidy for his loyalty and a job well done. Neely went so far as to praise him as a “fantastic trainer”.
Neely got it right. So at least there is that.
Cassidy steered the club to Game 7 of the Cup final in 2019, when the roster still featured franchise keeper Tuukka Rask in his prime, with team captain Zdeno Chara playing all the way with a jaw cracked and David Krejci working in tandem with Patrice Bergeron as arguably the best 1-2 central tandem in the Original 31. We know where that went.
The team that just lost to Carolina had none on the roster, and the pool of players didn’t build up to iteration 19 in terms of talent or willpower. Even then, Cassidy managed to pull off 51 regular season wins and a sixth straight playoff finish.
There has been an ongoing narrative around the club in recent months, trickling in from Jake DeBrusk’s trade request before last season, that some players were unhappy with Cassidy’s coaching style. In short, he was too hard on some players. Especially young players, some of whom – Ryan Donato, Anders Bjork, Danton Heinen – were traded.
More of this narrative will inevitably recur in the wake of Cassidy’s firing. To date, whether here or elsewhere, not a single player, assistant or front office employee has declared it for the record.
If the story is true, Cassidy’s firing, in theory, could influence whether, say, Bergeron and Krejci choose to return next season, or whether DeBrusk drops his permanent trade request. The question would then become: Was Cassidy canned to appease players?
If so, it’s a wow moment. And good luck to the next one, who takes the job thinking it has 21 general managers. No way to lead a hockey team.
Cassidy was the least of the problems here. The players who got him fired, either through their lack of talent or maybe their blame, weren’t good enough.
Sweeney and Neely haven’t been good enough the last three years either. Sweeney in particular couldn’t come up with suitable responses as Chara, Krejci and Rask left the stage left.
On top of all that, Jacobs, the DNA of the property on duty here, doesn’t distinguish good hockey from bad hockey. It is useless to assess how Sweeney, Neely, et al. have performed on the job. If the door receipts sag, then Jacobs would be able to measure it. But that didn’t happen. So, well, can the coach.
Now for Cassidy’s successor? Barry Trotz, dropped by the Islanders in early May, is the hottest name. Don’t be surprised if he’s had talks with Sweeney before. Or if he wants to go further with a Brian Sutter approach, maybe he’ll think a recycled John Tortorella will do the trick. Based on what we’ve seen of the current roster, it’s hard to imagine a buy-in here for Tortorella’s shot-blocking mantra.
Cassidy, brilliant, frank and direct, will be quickly snapped up if he wants to get back to work. He signed a multi-year extension in September 2019 and has at least a year left on that deal. There are a handful of jobs open, including Detroit, Vegas, Philadelphia, Dallas, and possibly Winnipeg and Florida.
All coaches, of course, are hired to be fired. Even when it doesn’t make sense.
Even when the shooters haven’t done their job as well as the guy behind the bench.
Kevin Paul Dupont can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.