It’s not often that you will see an NHL coach, let alone any pro sports coach, open up about one of his players’ contract situations but that’s exactly what Boston Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy did on Wednesday morning when asked about how he’s handling defenseman Torey Krug’s contract situation?
“Only if I feel if there’s stories out there and I sense a little discomfort in the player,” Cassidy replied in a media Zoom call when asked by Joe Haggerty of NBCBoston if he will address the situation so that it doesn’t become a distraction during training camp and the upcoming Stanley Cup Playoffs.
“I try not to mess around in a player’s business. That’s his decision going forward. A guy like Torey, I’ve had for a long time so I had a lot of conversations with him anyway, some to do with hockey, some to do with the powerplay, some to do with life.”
Cassidy coached Krug for 63 games in Providence (AHL) in the shortened 2012-13 lockout season. After working with him as an Assistant Coach in Boston during the 2015-16 season, he has been Krug’s and the Bruins’ head coach since he was named bench boss of the Bruins in February of the 2016-17 season. Krug -who finished this season with nine goals and 40 assists – has prospered in Cassidy’s system, finishing with 40 points or more in each season Cassidy has been behind the Bruins bench as an Assistant and Head Coach.
Clearly there is familiarity between Krug and the 2020 Jack Adams Award Finalist and also a bond that allows him to broach such a delicate and often distracting situation for a player like Krug who is set to become an unrestricted free agent on October 7. Cassidy believes at some point, he and Krug will touch base just to make sure Krug’s mind is in the right place.
“So, I suspect I will at some point because it’s Torey and I’ve had him for such a long time but we’re not going to get too deep involved in it,” Cassidy said It’s just about being in the moment. You made the decision to be here; stay in the moment. Everything will take care of itself for the most part and we’ll go from there and see where it goes if he wants to talk about it. Then again, the player doesn’t want to have those conversations sometimes either. That’s their personal business.”
Cassidy didn’t seem the least bit worried that the impending free agency would dominate Krug’s mind to the point his play on the ice would suffer but his door is always open for not just Krug but any soon-to-be UFA or a restricted free agent.
“They’re here to play; they’re professionals,” Cassidy said. “So I expect Torey will give 100 percent and deal with whatever he has to deal with down the road in terms of his contract. So that’s how I’ll handle it and then if I feel that there’s a couple other players that are getting antsy because it’s their contract year, then I’ll try and sort of get them to stay in the moment as well but right now I try to stay out of that.”
Cassidy can’t stop Krug – who told the media Monday that he’s done speaking about his contract until after the Stanley Cup playoffs – from stressing over it but he can remind him or any other impending free agent that the best way to silence the outside noise and earn a hefty pay raise is to perform on the ice.
“I think it’s part of the business,” Cassidy said. “My guess is every year, 25 percent or what are at the end of their deal so I don’t know if it’s my place to get in there and start managing their emotions when it comes to their personal contract. My job is more about getting them in a good place; putting them in a position to succeed. Obviously, that will take care of their contract right there. If they come in here and play well; big part of the team, the rest will fall into place. I think if it goes the other way, that’s when you have to take them aside and let them know, you’re not getting judged on one game for your next deal. So I try not to with every player and like I said, take care of the everyday business and get them focused on the task at hand.”