Have Boston Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy and winger Jake DeBrusk buried the hatchet?
After he and his teammates beat the Montreal Canadiens 3-2 in overtime Monday night in Montreal, DeBrusk didn’t bring up his reportedly soured relationship with Cassidy, but it should be noted that he wasn’t asked it either. What Jake DeBrusk did say after signing a two-year, $8 million contract extension and not being traded before the NHL Trade Deadline a mere seven hours before he met with the media, was that he is embracing the ‘clarity’ that he will be with the Bruins until at least the offseason. The 25-year-old winger, who requested a trade back in November, also said he’s embracing the chance to play on a Stanley Cup contender with the only teammates he’s ever known.
“I don’t look at it as a negative situation,” Jake DeBrusk replied when asked about not being traded. “Anytime you can play for a team that has a chance to win a Stanley Cup, it’s a positive and that’s why we play the game is to win the Stanley Cup. I’m comfortable with these guys; I grew up with this team, was drafted by them and it’s one of those things where it kind of hits ya in a sense, but it hits you in the right way. Obviously, I’m playing on a very good line at the moment and I’ll do anything I can to stay there and help the team win. Like I said, it’s all about winning the Stanley Cup at this point and I think anybody can get behind that.”
During an appearance on the Toucher and Rich Show on 98.5 The Sports Hub Wednesday, Cassidy appeared to be on the same page but delved deeper into the seemingly severed relationship between him and DeBrusk.
“Our relationship’s been talked about,” Bruce Cassidy admitted. “I like Jake as a person. He’s a good guy. He’s a low-maintenance, good teammate. My issue with him has always been about pushing him, holding him accountable, second-effort-type of player. Some players respond to that differently than others, so I’ve had to adjust, and so did he.
Right now we’re both Boston Bruins and he’s played well for us, to be honest with you, and we’re glad to have him. He’s a good hockey player and he can help us win a Stanley Cup.”
A team source confirmed to Boston Hockey Now back in January and again after DeBrusk spoke to the media Tuesday night, that when Cassidy made DeBrusk a healthy scratch prior to a 3-2 win over the Vancouver Canucks on Nov. 28, that sealed the deal for DeBrusk moving ahead with a trade request. On Wednesday, Cassidy didn’t directly confirmed that but his recollection of that decision definitely supported it.
“He wasn’t happy being sat out in November, and I get that, him and Erik Haula both,” Cassidy explained. “We just decided to go in a different direction with some younger guys that maybe had been working hard in practice. The team wasn’t going well. They happened to be the two that we chose [to sit], so I know that didn’t sit well for a veteran guy, I understand that, but I’ve got to do what’s right for the team and always will. So, I can look back and say, ‘Should I have done it? Should’ve I done this or that?’ I did it. We usually look at what happens next. We won a few games, so the message was sent, and sometimes it’s for other guys too. ‘Hey I could be next, if I want my spot in the lineup I better dig in here.’
“There’s a little bit of different reasons why you do that. It’s not always exactly on the player,” Cassidy continued. “[DeBrusk] just became a guy that I chose, and at the end of the day that made [his trade request] public after that. So we worked through some things, obviously got to where we are now, and here we are. So there’s no use looking back. We’re looking forward, trying to win a Stanley Cup now with the group we have in the room, and he’s part of that.”
Cassidy was asked of there’s a chance DeBrusk could end up remaining with the Boston Bruins next season.
“I don’t know what will happen this summer,” said Cassidy. “That will be up to him and his representative and [Don Sweeney], but he can be a good player for us. We all acknowledge that, and he has been the last I’d say 6-8 weeks. He’s digging in, and that makes us better.”