Boston Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy has heard the doom and gloom when it comes to the Bruins veteran core. Zdeno Chara (43), Patrice Bergeron (35), David Krejci (34), Tuukka Rask (33), and Brad Marchand (32) aren’t getting any younger and that proverbial Stanley Cup window for this group to win their second Cup may be closing but as far as Cassidy is concerned, it’s not shut yet and another door is opening for the future core.
“I do,” Cassidy said when asked if he’s reflected on that dynamic of his team. “The reality is, as every team gets a year older, there is an effect on the team. And for us, I think every summer Donny would tell you when we sit down and go over our team, we’re always trying to get to be bigger, faster, stronger, better. That’s just the way it is. And does that mean moving out younger guys, older guys, middle of the road guys? There is always that discussion.”
Bruce Cassidy and Don Sweeney will have that discussion more in-depth than ever this offseason. Chara and Torey Krug (29) are both unrestricted free agents. Key forward Jake DeBrusk (23) is a restricted free agent and needs a new contract. Cassidy knows that turnover is a reality of the game and there’s bound to be roster changes in the coming weeks but he’s confident that both that veteran core and the new wave can still compete for the Stanley Cup.
“So, we’ll have that again,” Cassidy continued. “And I’m not trying to evade your question. A couple of the older guys, a couple of the core guys are free agents. There’s a decision to be made by the player and by management. It’s not only on management. How do you supplement a core that’s got another year on them? And I think we’ve done some good with that over the years obviously to stay very competitive and be one of the elite teams in the league.”
AIDING THE CORE
Bruce Cassidy mentioned the good work that Sweeney has done to supplement the core. Charlie Coyle had 37 points (16 g, 21 a) in 70 games centering the Bruins third-line this season. He was their best depth scorer in the playoffs, scoring five points (3 g, 2 a) in 13 total games.
Adding more players like that, to get the most out of the core, will be a priority this offseason.
“We are going to supplement more,” Cassidy admitted. “We’re going to look at if they have the right pieces around them.”
That’s not all. Bruce Cassidy needs to see how he, himself, can better aid this aging core group.
“Are we coaching them the right way? Do we need to change our systems now because of the way we’ve lost out in the playoffs? Those are all realistic questions,” Cassidy added. “There is always going to be an immediate cry at the end when you lose about what happened. We just have to be careful. Sit back for a bit and see. Is the reason because we need to get younger? Have some of these guys aged out? Did we put them in the right position to succeed? Is there a lot more to give? I think there is, personally. We’ll have those discussions.”
Bruce Cassidy And Bruins Ready To Adapt Again
Many believe the Bruins core needs more jam and size to it. Bruce Cassidy doesn’t necessarily disagree, but the players have to fit with the team’s style and system. That was a problem for trade deadline addition Nick Ritchie (1 g, 1 a, 7 GP)
“It’s not that easy to say, ok we’re just going to bring in three big bodies that are going to fly around the ice. You have to have them in your system,” Cassidy continued. “You probably have to give up pieces if you don’t. Or, you have to groom them. Those are the things that we’re going to sit down and plan.
“Like I said, I think what we’ve done well with this organization is if we’ve had to retool, we have and do it on the fly with your core. We’re not afraid of that if that’s what we need to do. Those are discussions I think we’ll have once the dust settles.”