Boston Bruins fans, media that cover the team, national media, and plenty that work in the NHL are wondering what’s going on with the status of Boston Bruins general manager Don Sweeney and head coach Bruce Cassidy?
Calls and texts from Boston Hockey Now to Boston Bruins sources and sources around the NHL have produced pure speculation but nothing confirmed.
Two weeks ago today, Don Sweeney likely woke up thinking he would be signed to a new contract by May 24 after team President Cam Neely said the following on May 20, after the Boston Bruins were bounced from the first round of the 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs in a seven-game series loss to the Carolina Hurricanes on May 14:
“I’m going to sit down with Don in the next day or two and hopefully hammer something out.”
When asked why an extension for Sweeney hadn’t been signed earlier, Neely replied:
“To be honest, I really wanted to see how the year went. We had a lot of changes in the last offseason, so I just really wanted to see how that played out. Obviously, you get January, February, March – really good months for us. The team really came together. I thought we had a lot of depth and I was happy with what he did at the deadline.”
As of late Thursday evening, no new deal for Sweeney to continue as GM of the Boston Bruins had been announced but according to numerous reports and sources, his contract technically wasn’t set to expire until the conclusion of the playoffs. Still though, the curiosity over the delay of ink to paper could be justified because Neely clearly let the future of Cassidy up in the air and that could be part of the negotiations on a new contract.
“I think we have to look at making some changes as far as how we play,” Neely said when asked about the status of Cassidy for the 2022-23 season. “I think Bruce is a fantastic coach. He’s brought a lot of success to this organization. I like him as a coach. So we’ll see where it goes, but I do think we need to make some changes.”
Neely went on to question Cassidy’s handling of the young players on the Boston Bruins roster.
“There’s no question players are afraid to make mistakes, especially younger players, because, you know, you hear about it,” when asked if the youth on the Boston Bruins lineup is afraid to make mistakes under Cassidy? “And I was one of those players that, you know, I had to learn and grow. And I heard about it, too. And I made mistakes as a younger player. But you can’t worry about not getting back out there. I think that’s one of the things we have to kind of change. I think when younger players make mistakes, they’re worried they’re not going to play the next game while that game is still going on.”
The Boston Bruins team president also questioned the team’s powerplay struggles and when asked if Bruce Cassidy would be the head coach of the Boston Bruins next season, he deferred to Sweeney for making that call.
“Bruce is in deep trouble I think,” one of the aforementioned sources above speculated of the Boston Bruins head coach. “I’m not saying they fire him now for sure, but there’s a short leash if not.”
Two reports in the last two days from an up and coming local (and IMHO, a diligent and connected) reporter, Mark Allred, who has mostly covered the Providence Bruins, stated that Boston Bruins assistant coach Kevin Dean is leaving the Bruins. Allred first stated that this was Dean’s decision but then later said he may have been fired.
As news becomes more prevalent, don’t be shocked if the #NHLBruins Assistant Coach got fired.
Regardless of this update or previous Tweet, he won’t be behind the #Boston bench in 2022-23. https://t.co/zvm6LduuP9
— Mark Allred (@BlackAndGold277) June 1, 2022
An email by BHN to confirm this to the Boston Bruins public relations staff Thursday was not returned as of late Thursday evening. Also, a text to BHN from a source close to Dean on Thursday afternoon, had this to say:
“Sorry…no update right now.”
Another NHL source said this Thursday of the Dean report if true:
“When they chip away at your staff, your leash gets shorter and shorter. New Jersey. …it happened in Vancouver with [Alain] Vigneault.”
So while signs do point to both Sweeney and Cassidy coming back for at least the 2022-23 season, the silence from the Bruins has been interesting to say the least for a team that has made the Stanley Cup Playoffs for six straight seasons. There’s no doubt that captain Patrice Bergeron’s future is likely part of the crickets around TD Garden, but for a team heading into arguably one of it’s important off-seasons of the last decade, one would think these situations need to be resolved ASAP. Maybe they have been already but the lack of news from and chatter around the team paints a cloudy picture for the next season regardless of if Bergeron comes back or not.
If there were NHL Betting Odds on whether Sweeney and Cassidy are back for next season, I’d bet yes but will Cassidy make it through next season? The odds for that are up in the air at best at this point.