Bruce Cassidy has been coaching for a Boston associated team for roughly the past ten years, 9 years in Providence and for a full year now with the big club up in Boston. IN Amalie Benjamin’s latest piece on the success of this season’s team, Cassidy explains why he’s drawn to working with the bear cubs.
“I’m used to younger guys,” said Cassidy, who helped Boston go 18-8-1 in its final 27 games last season after it went 26-23-6 under Julien. “It’s my background. I have a lot of time for them, and some of it is because when I was a younger player I never quite made it. A lot of that had to do with my health and talent, obviously, but I always thought when I was a young guy I was a little bit lost, my personality. I wasn’t a gregarious type. So some of these kids, I find you don’t want them to slip between the cracks.”
He has spent this season doing exactly that, helping the rookies blend nearly seamlessly with the veterans. Those six rookies, plus Donato, were responsible for 172 points. Heinen finished fifth on the Bruins with 47 points (16 goals, 31 assists), DeBrusk was seventh with 43 (16 goals, 27 assists), and McAvoy 10th with 32 (seven goals, 25 assists). McAvoy was second on Boston in average time on ice (22:08) behind partner Zdeno Chara (22:54).
It seems his approach varies from player to player, many of the younger players he coached down in Providence. For instance, he seemed to be harder on Torey Krug, which took a while to work out.
“I think more than anything it’s a mentality thing, realizing that, hey, my coach is on my side and he’s not against me,” Krug said. “That’s a big part of it. … Bruce and I really butted heads and got in a lot of battles, then you realize that he just sees the potential in myself and realizes the plays that I should be making on a nightly basis and if I’m not doing them, he’s going to let me know about it. It took me a while to figure that out.”
“He’s definitely very hard on younger guys, but it’s in the right tone and it’s in the right context,” Krug said. “As long as the player isn’t taking things too personally, then he’ll be able to get better. Now working with a veteran group he’s more understanding that guys have a longer leash in terms of things you can do on the ice and making mistakes, but also he’s very hard on the older guys to maintain that level of standard that we play by.
Noel Acciari, who signed in Providence after winning a national championship with the Providence College Friars, see Cassidy a little differently.
“He’s a newer coach up here and he’s open for anything, suggestions from guys,” Acciari said. “He’s always asking guys, ‘Do you want something different? Let me know and we’ll talk about it.’ He’s easy like that.
“I think that helps a team out because, yeah, he’s going to teach us everything he can along the way, but he also wants to learn too.”
Cassidy knows that there’s a learning curve and that he will and has made some mistakes.
“I don’t know yet,” he said. “I’m still learning that, to be honest with you.”
He pointed to Brandon Carlo, the 21-year-old defenseman in his second NHL season who was excellent (16 points; six goals, 10 assists in 82 games) as a rookie under the tutelage of Cassidy and Chara. This season did not go as well, with Carlo (six assists in 76 games) taking a step back at times before fracturing his ankle against the Florida Panthers on March 31 (he is out for the season).
“I’ve moved on to Charlie and DeBrusk and haven’t had much time for Brandon,” Cassidy said. “I feel bad because I think there’s parts of his game that we worked on last year, the offensive part of it, that aren’t quite there again this year and I want to go back to it, but it’s only in bits and pieces and you’re working with everybody.”
Carlo was beinen to turn his game into something else before he was injured. Cassidy and his staff will be able to work on that when he comes back..
Some notes from practice in tweet form:
#NHLBruins practice lines:
Marchand – Bergeron – Pastrnak
DeBrusk – Krejci – Rick Nash
Heinen – Gionta – Backes
Schaller – Kuraly – Wingels
Chara – McAvoy
Krug – Miller
Grzelcyk – McQuaid
Riley Nash and Noel Acciari are not on the ice.
— Boston Bruins (@NHLBruins) April 10, 2018
Per Bruce Cassidy, it was a maintenance day for Noel Acciari. Expects him to be fine for Thursday.
Riley Nash did not skate today.
Rick Nash and Sean Kuraly were full participants, “bodes well for them.”
— Boston Bruins (@NHLBruins) April 10, 2018
The Bruins announced the signing of Minnesota-Duluth forward Karson Kuhlman to a two-year deal.
You have until 6:59pm EDT tonight to submit your bracket to our leagues (BobbytoBergy and BearlyonTopic in the NHL Bracket Challenge. I have noticed that there are some people who have joined that may not have saved their brackets yet because they appear to be a blank space. Make sure you check them over and save them to join in the fun!