If the 2019-20 NHL season returns, Boston Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy is confident his team will be ready for another run at the Stanley Cup but he knows that in order to do so, he will need to weigh heavily on his training and medical staffs. Unlike when players report for training camp each September and they’ve already got a month or two months on the ice under their belt, hardly any NHL players will have skated since the NHL paused its season on March 12. They’ll also likely not get that much time before they’re back at it and potentially playing in the Stanley Cup playoffs.
“Well obviously it will be a different scenario because most of the guys — all of the guys — typically in a normal year would have been skating in August, early September, some in July at their own pace that they feel is best for them,” Cassidy said in a Monday afternoon Zoom conference with the media.
This instance I don’t know if we’ll have that luxury before or not. Right now they don’t. So I think it starts with your strength and conditioning coach and your medical team, where are they at, what is the risk of injury if we ramp up too quickly? So you’ll get some feedback and direction from their standpoint. I think the medical team typically deals with guys coming off, especially if it’s injury, where they can’t skate for an extended period of time, so they’ll probably have a good idea of what the load should be.
Then I’ve got to balance that with how much time do we actually have — do we have seven days of camp, do we have 17 days? That factors into how fast we can ramp up.”
Cassidy will also lean heavily on his players, to be honest about where they’re at. That will be key to how many minutes he allots amongst his older players like captain Zdeno Chara (43) and alternate captain Patrice Bergeron (34). Finding that balance between their excitement and motivation to be playing again versus what pace they can actually be at will be key. Cassidy and every other NHL coach will certainly not have much time to do so.
“I think it’s a personal conversation with each player. “Obviously, Bergy, Zee, they may need a little more time or different intensity than maybe a DeBrusk or Pasta that’s younger. So those are all the things that will go into it. My expectation like everyone else’s is we’ve got to be ready in a hurry. We’ve got to be ready quicker than the next team, and that’s just very hard to predict because no one’s been through this. I know our players are excited about this opportunity, assuming it’s coming, so that part of it I think they’ll be highly motivated to get themselves ready to play, and that’s where you hope during this break that guys have done the best and the most that they can right now just so they don’t have to play too much catchup.”