What next for David Pastrnak? Will He Make it to Toronto with his teammates on July 26 for the start of Phase 4?
Earlier today J.P. Barry, the agent for Boston Bruins forward David Pastrnak told the Athletic Friday that Pastrnak is back in quarantine after testing negative for COVID19.
On Friday evening, a team source, when asked by Boston Hockey Now if Pastrnak and Ondrej Kase – who Cassidy said would not be disciplined by the team but wasn’t sure about the league – still were ‘unlikely’ to face team discipline and the Bruins leadership core ‘has got this’. The source stressed that the veteran group that has led the Bruins to three Stanley Cup Finals in nine years was “already on it’ and didn’t believe this ‘would be an issue’ going forward as far as the dressing room goes.
What if Pastrnak breaks quarantine again or the bubble in the Eastern Conference Hub City of Toronto though? Should he even go to Toronto? The Bruins are playing this down but the bottom line is that Pastrnak – and Ondrej Kase – let their teammates, the team and Bruins fans down by not adhering to safety guidelines and going out and about last weekend while they were supposed to be in quarantine. A quarantine mind you, that had them missing the first two days of camp.
Now, as Barry told Athletic Bruins and NHL reporter Fluto Shinzawa, Pastrnak will have to reenter quarantine for an unknown amount of time and with the team scheduled to head north to Toronto a week from Sunday for the Stanley Cup Playoffs. It is not known if Kase is back in quarantine as well.
When asked if he was disappointed about Pastrnak’s situation though Friday morning, head coach Bruce Cassidy told Boston Hockey Now in a Zoom call with the media, that he wasn’t and that no punitive actions were taken by him and the team against Pastrnak and Kase.
“I don’t know. I don’t believe he’s been disciplined by the league,” the 2020 Jack Adams award finalist replied. “The absence isn’t discipline against those two guys. … We’re not disciplining anybody.”
After Pastrnak skated for the first time in training camp on Wednesday, the plan was for the new co-Rocket Richard Trophy winner to be back Thursday along with what Bruce Cassidy was expecting to be a full roster. Between the end of practice Wednesday and when Pastrnak showed up at Warrior Arena Thursday, the team learned that he had come into contact with someone who has COVID19 and held him and fellow winger Ondrej Kase – who based on recent social media photos of him and Pastrnak off the ice – presumably could’ve been with him.
Like Kase and Pastrnak, Bruins forward Joakim Nordstrom was deemed ‘unfit to play’ Friday.
One would think that the Bruins couldn’t be happy with their superstar winger who’s coming off a career season in which he tied Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin for the league lead in goals with 48 lamplighters. This isn’t the first time Pastrnak’s off-ice activity has caught up to him. In February 2019, Pastrnak tripped on a sidewalk heading for an Uber after a team social gathering and tore a tendon in his thumb that needed surgery. That led to him missing 16 games and at times an invisible act in the 2019 Stanley Cup playoffs.
On Thursday Cassidy was asked if he was already planning ahead with lineup scenarios that don’t include Pastrnak when the round-robin round begins on August 2 against the Philadelphia Flyers.
“Am I thinking ahead to being without (Pastrnak and Kase) in the round-robin or the playoffs? No, that would be speculating,” Cassidy said. “But for [Thursday] and if I get word later today that the same thing is going to happen tomorrow, then we start looking at other guys and as a staff we go through that.”
Between then and now, Cassidy and the Bruins got word on why Pastrnak and Kase are ‘unfit to play’ and the team’s leadership core who specifically asked their teammates to ‘be professional’ and maintain a circle of trust, also found their first weak links in the dressing room. As mentioned above, the leadership core will address the situation but if Pastrnak is unable to go to Toronto with the team because he doesn’t get his act together and disrespects the safety guidelines and this entire process of the NHL return, the league will deal with him and he’ll break his teammates’ trust again.
When players sign with the Bruins or are traded to them they always that the Bruins have one of, if not the best leadership groups they’ve ever been around. As Patrice Bergeron said Monday though, they can only do so much to keep younger players in check and they’re not going to ‘babysit’ anyone. Bergeron, captain Zdeno Chara, Tuukka Rask, David Krejci, Torey Krug and Brad Marchand are doing their job but now it’s time for Pastrnak and Kase to act like pros.
“Professionalism is going to be huge,” Bergeron said. “We need to rely on everyone for this thing to work. Right now, in phase 3, you’re allowed to go home and we’re not going to babysit you on your whereabouts and all that so it’s trusting one another and making sure that everyone is doing the right thing and is committed for this thing to work and move forward. I think that’s the most important thing, to be professionals about it, be smart and use common sense obviously.”
Pastrnak and Kase definitely lacked common sense and even if any team or league discipline arises from this now, they owe it to their team to start using their heads the way they do when they’re instinctively seeing a goalie’s weak links. They need to buy in now or bow out of the rest of Phase 3 and Phase 4 and the Stanley Cup playoffs so that they don’t become a distraction again and leave the Bruins missing two quality goal scorers mid-playoffs. The league could end up deciding that for them and anyone who doesn’t adhere to the safety guidelines but it’s time for Pastrnak and Kase to decide for themselves how much they want a shot at redemption for the Bruins and to hoist the Stanley Cup?