Bruce Cassidy And Don Sweeney Talk Bruins Hockey

by | Jun 24, 2019

On his biggest priorities this offseason and if getting a top-six right wing is among them…

DS: I think the biggest priority is to have our guys get healthy, get recharged. We have some RFA
stuff that we have to take care, and then I go from there. I think we have areas that we would like
to continue to address, whether that’s internally or externally, not just through free agency but
through trades. We’re going to be active in trying to address those.
On the lineup…

DS: That’s up to Bruce [Cassidy] in terms of moving guys around and playing different spots.
Every team has areas they’d like to continue to address. I think we had really good depth. I think
it showed up.

On free agent Marcus Johansson…

DS: Well, we met – we had some meetings. I told Marcus that I did have the same, along the same
lines, with the RFA side of things that we have some things we need to clarify internally before I
can definitively tell him. We found that Marcus was a really good fit for our hockey club. I was
proud of how he got injured, came back and elevated his play, was really invested, thought he fit
in really well with Charlie [Coyle] coming in, gave us some options on the power play, was a
really good fit. Good person, a great teammate and got us to a certain point. Wish we could’ve
finished it off.

On where he stands with David Backes…

DS: I don’t think any of our seasons ended the way we liked, to be honest with you. I think that
we had a tremendous run. He was a big part of that, reinserted back in in Game 2 against Toronto
where he elevated our physical play. You know, was a big part of our hockey club, on and off the
ice. So, where it fits going forward, he’s a part of our hockey club. I have discussions on different
players. He may or may not be a part of that, but for the most part, he’s a part of our hockey club.
His impact is again up to Bruce and up to David in terms of, from a production standpoint, he
might be referencing that or from a leadership standpoint we know what he brings, and I think
there’s value there.

On where he sees David Backes fitting in going forward…

BC: Well, I’ve always said it’s best – without knowing what our roster’s going to look like – going
into September I’ll have a good idea obviously, but until it’s finalized, you know, where his
competition will come from. I thought he best fit in with [Sean] Kuraly / [Noel] Acciari / [Joakim]
Nordstrom, in that type of role. At the end of the day, when [Chris] Wagner, Acciari were all
healthy, there was competition for those spots, so sometimes he was in there, sometimes he wasn’t.
So, that’s where I see his best contribution to the team. At times he can move up in the lineup and
give you some grit, a net-front presence, but in general, that’s where he played his best hockey for
us. So, we’ll have to see how it all shakes out. Like I said, who else is in there, in that role, that
he’ll have to be out for a minute.

On if he predicts internal competition for a spot in the top-six forward group…

DS: Internally, from the organization? Well, I believe that we benefitted from the fact that we
played four lines. There were certain nights where Sean’s line played a lot of minutes. I think that’s
going to benefit both Bergy [Patrice Bergeron] and Krech [David Krejci] in that pairing, and then
Charlie Coyle brings a lot to that. Does Charlie Coyle move up in the right side? Again, putting
Charlie in a consistent spot is I think when he plays his best hockey. He referenced that when he
was in Minnesota, a production role. He could slide up and play right wing if another player
emerged from within. I could go through the guys. Trent Frederic would be the obvious one that
if he inserts himself, Sean plays up, maybe you move Charlie to the right. For right now, I think
the balance of our group is a strength, what Coyle presents is a mismatch at times for other teams.

It’s hard to play against that way, especially when you have Sean with the speed
and physicality that their line brings, and their ability to check and contribute offensively, it
presents problems. I think that was the strength of our hockey club this year from a depth
standpoint. We had injuries. We persevered through that. We had a lot of adversity that way. Bruce
has an open mind to put a Karson Kuhlman into those spots. You have Anders Bjork that will be
healthy coming back. You have players that hopefully will take a step this summer and come,
ready, locked and loaded. I mean, shame on any young player who doesn’t recognize that this was
a taxing year for some of our players, that they don’t come with their ears pinned back to think
boy can I take a step here. Whether that’s – you know, I can go through the list of players, Peter
Cehlarik, Zach Senyshyn, doesn’t matter who it is. Fitzy [Ryan Fitzgerald], Paul Carey, Anton
Blidh from a bottom stance of the lineup. So, every one of those guys, and we’re going to look to
add as well. We need to continue to add from the outside and to push the group as we did with
Wagner and Nordstrom this past summer.

On Bergeron and Krejci being his one-two centers for numerous seasons now and if he’s already
looking to find the next men up when the time comes…

DS: Well, this year’s draft is an example. There’s a lot of depth in the early part of the draft,
particular at center. We’re not drafting that position, so I’m not going to give up what we just
chased from that standpoint. If we can move into the top part, yeah, I would probably look to draft
a centerman as a replacement down the road. I think that [Jack] Studnicka is a player who has
offensive attributes. We’re going to see him be a pro this year and develop. He won’t be rushed
along. He’s got areas of his game he needs to continue to evolve and get stronger. Again, Frederic
is another centerman, so we have depth within the organization, but it’s hard to replace those guys.
Those guys are elite, elite hockey players and have been such for a long period of time. Generally,
you have to select them, draft them, develop them and put them in there and let them grow.

On Torey Krug…

DS: Well, Torey’s an important part of our hockey club. Really was proud of his effort, took to
heart being in a top-four role this year, in the playoffs in particular where he was going to face
matchups on the road, and he handled them really well. The power plays, the points, those things
speak for themselves and have been throughout his time here. He’s a big part of our club. We have
the opportunity starting July 1 to open up talks. Again, the RFA market and some of our internal things
will dictate the timing of those conversations. If somebody blew us away, you know, every player
has to be looked at in that way when you’re an organization you just have to. You’re doing yourself
a disservice if you don’t, but it would take a pretty unique opportunity for us to part with Torey.
We think he’s a big part of the fabric of our group. He’s kind of that next wave of leadership that
we talk about in behind some of the guys that have carried that mantle for a long time, but he’s an
important part of our club.

On with the number of upcoming signings if he’s thought about having to part with the current
leadership core…

DS: Well, I think it’s incumbent upon us to grow and realize these players, these young players,
have been a big part of the resurgence of our club, so to speak. They should realize they’ve been
insulated in a lot of ways, in that regard, from very unique players, both character-wise, leadership-wise and their impact on the ice. So, that would be the first thing I would point to. I think leaders
are grown. They’re not born, and I do believe that they’ve been aware that they’ve been very
uniquely surrounded by some pretty special people. Father time gets everybody, so eventually
that’s going to pass. When you make some of those decisions to move some of those players out,
depends on the opportunity you have with the other 30 teams. So, I can’t answer that today. You
have discussions, really, all the time with general managers around the league, and they may see
it the same way. They may see their hockey club as a guy who was in that category as a perfect fit.
They’re a great fit for us right now, and we want to grow the next group.

On if he feels like he’s taking the same type of team into next season in terms of the younger

BC: Well, you hope some of the work you’ve done with the younger guys pays off. It did I think
this year and last year to a certain extent. I mean, we were one win away, so the work everybody
put in from the top down to help these younger kids – the work they put in. I think we’ve always felt
around here that the best player plays. We’re not married to a name on the back of the shirt or a
contract or a draft, whatever round they’re drafted in, so you hope they’re better off for it. These
experiences now, Charlie’s had two of them, Grizz [Matt Grzelcyk] has had two of them, [Jake]
DeBrusk, Pasta [David Pastrnak] I’ll put in that category. Hopefully, it makes them better next
year if we’re fortunate enough to be in the same position, hardens them a little bit, educates them
a little bit, what it takes. So, that’s what you’re trying to do with those young guys and continue to
try and grow their game. I think we’ve done a good job with that. We’ll keep working at that.
Again, it’s hard for me to get ahead of myself and say in September we’ll have this because there’s
some important dates that have to shake out, so I guess I’m not in a speculative mood today,
unfortunately, but yeah. We want to get some youth into the lineup. How much is a balance Donny
[Sweeney] and I talk about and the rest of the group talks about, see where it lays. But usually, at
the end of the day I think the best players end up separating themselves, regardless of age, and
that’s kind of what we’ve tried to do and it’s kind of worked out well for us, and hopefully, that’s
the same kind of strategy going forward.

On Anders Bjork and Zdeno Chara’s health and recovery…

DS: Anders is doing really well from a recovery standpoint, had his shoulder, the same shoulder,
done again, but has taken the necessary time. Saw him a couple of weeks ago, he’ll be full bore. He’s
missed a lot of hockey, so he has to reclaim his ability to play wherever, you know, in our lineup
or work his way into our lineup at some point in time like he was doing last year from Prov. But
he’ll be fine, health-wise. Zdeno is having a small procedure done in his elbow to take out some
loose fragments and such, so he’s going to have that done this week and move forward and allow
that to recover along with the obvious one in his jaw.

On if there are any other injuries…
DS: There’s a couple of guys that are still having some secondary tests being done. Noel Acciari with
his heel, Backes has got something he’s following up on. The other guys, just going through the
list, I know they talked about [John] Moore obviously has to have surgery. Kevan Miller already
had his. Nordstrom had broken his foot. He had a small fracture in his navicular, so he has to let
that heal. He’ll be perfectly fine without surgery. Bergy, you know, was playing with a groin. He
doesn’t need surgery. He’ll be fine. Wagner’s…on the road [to recovery]. He was actually eligible
to play, which is pretty remarkable in itself, as well, but he’ll take some more time to make sure
he’s 100%.

On how much he thinks was left on the table because of the injuries during the postseason…

DS: Every team at that stage is dealing with injuries. We come out of a 10-day break, and you’d
think we’d be 100% healthy, and we weren’t. So, it just takes time. The guys need time. You go
through 100 and some odd games and push yourself to the limits or beyond the limits in certain
cases, certainly in Zdeno’s case, but for a lot of guys not just Zdeno, but that’s the obvious one
that comes to mind. It’s going to have a residual effect, so it’s a testament to the courage of each and every one of them to push themselves as is with what probably St. Louis and other teams were
dealing with.

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