BRIGHTON, Mass – The Boston Bruins made it abundantly clear during Tuesday’s discussion of firing their head coach, Bruce Cassidy, that captain Patrice Bergeron and his decision-making had nothing to do with the coaching move.
Boston Bruins GM Don Sweeney did admit that he’d had a conversation with Bergeron on Sunday after the captain had won his NHL-record fifth Selke Trophy, but said that the 36-year-old Bergeron didn’t have any input on the decision. Furthermore, Sweeney said that he didn’t think the coaching chance was going to have any impact on whether or not Bergeron was going to continue playing for the Black and Gold after posting 25 goals and 65 points this past season.
“I’ve had multiple conversations with Patrice about this organization over the course of my time here and I continue to have them,” said Sweeney of the veteran mulling a potential 19th season with the Boston Bruins. “He has too much respect for Bruce, for me and for anybody to make any recommendation about the coaches, or who he is going to play with. We went through the same thing with Claude [Julien], who he had a lot of success with. In my conversations yesterday I did not ask whether this would impact his decision [to keep playing]. It’s Bergeron’s decision and it’s on his timeline.”
Don Sweeney met with the media Tuesday morning to discuss the decision to relieve Bruce Cassidy as head coach.
— Boston Bruins (@NHLBruins) June 7, 2022
Bergeron himself responded to rumors he had input in the Cassidy firing by saying it was “unfounded” and “stupid speculation” in an article published in his native French language.
“It’s completely unfounded, so I won’t put any energy into it. It’s a waste of time and it’s really stupid speculation,” said Bergeron to Journal De Quebec.
Beyond that, Sweeney admitted that the message from the coaching staff hadn’t been getting through to the players, both young and old, after six years behind the bench for Cassidy. He was quick to shoot down the assertion that Cassidy had “lost the room” or that exit interviews with disgruntled players pushed the Boston Bruins into making the decision.
“We’ve gone through exit meetings…I’ve done them at every level,” said Sweeney. “They’re not driving the bus in terms of making my decisions. I honestly believe that it doesn’t matter what they’re saying individually. It’s what they’re saying collectively as a group.
“They agreed that we left something on the table [in the playoffs] and I felt the same way. I think there’s a message delivery that a new voice will resonate with. I felt that both the message and how it was being delivered, and more importantly maybe how it was being received, young and old. Taking ownership of it as I do with where we’re at and some of the decisions that I ultimately have to make. The players felt they were well-prepared, but at times, young and old, they struggled and sometimes that’s the voice in their head. Ultimately you make a decision that takes us on a different path.”
Instead, it felt like the Boston Bruins were realizing that the window for Stanley Cups with the current group has closed and that a new voice was needed to cultivate the young talent that the B’s need to draft and develop moving forward. It’s still a lingering question as to whether Bergeron, or David Krejci, will be a part of that during the 2022-23 NHL season, but the Boston Bruins are getting a head start on a retooling of the NHL club that’s been like a slow-moving car accident for the last few years as age has subtracted significant core players from their roster.