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NHL Source On Boston Bruins: “Are Inmates Are Running The Asylum?”

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Within minutes after the Boston Bruins announcing the firing of head coach Bruce Cassidy last Monday night, bewilderment, curiosity and of course rumors, spread like wildfire around the NHL.

“What the hell just happened?” one NHL executive source wrote in a text to Boston Hockey Now just minutes after the Boston Bruins released a press release and statements from Bruins general manager Don Sweeney and team president Cam Neely.

Everyone was aware of Neely’s critical comments on Cassidy in his end of the season media session.

“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.”

That being said, many took his critique of Cassidy as just the typical blunt and emotional Neely. However, his next comments regarding Cassidy and his coaching style proved to be the most telling and seemingly were foreshadowing the dismissal of Cassidy.

“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 are 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.”

Cassidy, after being assured he was coming back was then fired last Monday.

Since then, there have been multiple reports and rumors of younger players on the team letting it be known to team management that they didn’t appreciate the way Cassidy handled struggling young players. As is the case when stuff like this comes to light, some of this stems from sour grapes and some has some validity to it. What’s been more interesting though is what more than one source has indicated to BHN regarding how players, young and old, communicated this to Neely more than Sweeney.

It should be noted that an Athletic report does cite philosophical differences between Sweeney and Cassidy developing mid-season. 

“Look it’s no secret how tight Bruce and Don Sweeney were,” a trusted NHL source told BHN recently. “From what I hear, the players’ issues with Bruce fell on deaf ears with Sweeney so they took it to Neely. I’ve heard Neely and Cassidy didn’t always see eye to eye and maybe that’s all he needed to justify firing him? Who knows? But that’s what it sounds like.”

Another source who heard similar information had this to say:

“If that’s true, that’s not good because now are inmates running the asylum and the GM is getting undermined too.”

When speaking to the media after Cassidy was fired, Sweeney vehemently denied such a theory.

“They’re not driving the bus in terms of making my decisions,” Sweeney said of the players.

He also presented it as if the firing was his decision and didn’t come from above.

“The timing after taking a few weeks to unpack, a lot of things happened over the course of the year and where I thought the direction of our team was currently and equally with some of the surgeries and some of the things coming out where our team was going to be going forward and impacting our club, I just felt that the messaging and voice that was going to be required, I felt we needed a new direction,” Sweeney said.

However, what he said next was rather interesting to say the least:

“I had met with the coaching staff like I normally do to go over not only the year and their feeling of where our team was and what we were capable of achieving. And then I met with Bruce afterwards as well talking about his staff. At that point in time, he had made a decision that Kevin Dean wasn’t going to be extended. We had talks during the course of the year about he and Kevin and their relationship, everybody was aware that there was a little friction there at some point in time. They got past that and went back to work as both of them as professionals and I think have a long history.

Then I just went back to work and talking with our group, scouts, management, certainly ownership, and just made a clear decision that it needed to change and that’s where I arrived yesterday afternoon.”

The fact that Sweeney allowed Cassidy to fire an assistant and begin to shape his coaching staff for the 2022-23 season but then fired him two weeks later left one NHL Executive baffled.

“That’s just strange,” he told BHN. “Something is not right there.”

When Bruce Cassidy broke his silence on Thursday and addressed the media in a Zoom call, he indicated Sweeney told him he was safe and that he was completely caught off guard when Sweeney came to his house to deliver the bad news.

“I was under the assumption [I’d be back] and preparing for [next season]. But you’re always on the clock as a coach,” Cassidy said. “It did catch me by surprise and [Sweeney] explained his process. I respect what he does as a GM. Donny was very respectful. I don’t agree with it; I want to be coach of the Boston Bruins. But I’m on to the next challenge and hopefully I can be successful.”

From the outside, to some it appears Cassidy got railroaded by some disgruntled players and by Neely. The truth on that may never be confirmed, but right now, that idea doesn’t seem to be sitting well within the NHL community. That makes one wonder if the NHL odds on who will be the next Bruins head coach change if potential coaches are aware of this potential explanation of Cassidy’s firing?

 

 

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Lawrence Maiolo

Neely knows all about this from his experience as a scout, an assistant coach, a head coach, an assistant GM and a GM. Oh, wait a minute, wrong guy, sorry.

anonymous

B’s needed cleaning at the top – Neely/Sweeney. But, Jacobs are a go with the flow mindset — look at Sinden. However, despite rumours – Jay Pandolfo is a good choice who knows the roster.

Kevin L

You can’t diss Harry for two reasons:
1: You are hiding as anonymous.
2: Harry has one of the best records all-around for the B’s — and he was very adept (mostly) at building rosters and raising their own players. Sinden is likely the most productive Bruins coach in their history. He took an all-around active role in the organization.

Jo Shays

I agree with you completely, Jimmy. Get rid of Jacobs, Neely, and Sweeney! Can’t stand this circus anymore!!!!

Rick W Murray

doesn’t matter who they get to coach the problem is at the top not only with Neely and Sweeney Jacobs as well for failing to take a more active role in the running of this club. Neely and Sweeney should been fired years ago.

Kevin L

Lot of writers not being sincere in their now praise and questioning of this debacle.. First — It was a majority of BeanTown sports writers whom for months were questioning Cassidy’s creds and suggesting he would lose his position. Yet many of these writers are now making nice about Cassidy. I can only imagine they are intimidated by the majority of very, very pissed-off fans. colleagues, and a few NHL notables wondering what the hell is going on. Second — Young players and a select 2 were whining, as so many do in this generation. That’s not a coaching issue…… Read more »

Last edited 5 months ago by Kevin L
Graham Strong

Wow – thanks for the insights, Jimmy! I think we as fans always suffer from not knowing all the inside story. It’s like trying to make theories on what makes a black box tick. This pries the lid open a bit. I’m still not quite sure what prompted the firing — even after all this information. If Neely didn’t have direct say in Cassidy’s firing, it seems pretty obvious that he must have influenced it. I doubt it would be a decision made without Sweeney at least talking about it with Neely. And I would imagine Neely could have at… Read more »

wickedasitseems

Imagine making millions to play a game and getting a bit of critism when you don’t produce!

Fred

The majority of their draft picks and trades have not worked out. Neely, Sweeney and the entire scouting staff should have been fired, not Cassidy.

Bill

Bro. You really don’t know the difference between our and are?

Mike McCormack

Cassidy got back stabbed by management, UNSAT !

Cable

I’m still pissed at Neely for running Tyler out of town it was all on him (Neely )

Last edited 5 months ago by Cable
Cable

DeBrusk had to be one of those players complaining about BC

Bob

I dont agree to firing Bruce. Let’s wait and see if the club can adjust. If it cant Sweeney has got to go. Neelys name is in the rafters. So, the Hockey Gods have to meet about his pink slip.

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