Although Patrice Bergeron might have something to say about this, it sure looks like the Boston Bruins’ window of contention has closed.
If it wasn’t shut after the Bruins lost a seven-game series to the Carolina Hurricanes in the first round of the 2022 Stanley Cup playoffs last month, then it was shut on Monday when general manager Don Sweeney fired coach Bruce Cassidy.
The move was met with a mix of anger, confusion and consternation from the fanbase and the local media, though team president Cam Neely had hinted at the possibility of making a coaching change a few weeks ago.
But the few weeks that passed led many to believe that Cassidy, a Jack Adams Award winner who led the Bruins to the 2019 Eastern Conference title, was safe.
“I just felt that the messaging and voice that was going to be required,” Sweeney said Tuesday morning at a press conference at the club’s practice facility. “I felt we needed a new direction.”
The team was always going to be headed in a new direction regardless of who was behind the bench. Brad Marchand recently underwent hip surgeries and is expected to be out six months. Captain Patrice Bergeron’s contract is up, and he may opt for retirement this summer.
Sweeney insisted that Bergeron did not have any influence on this decision.
“No, I’ve had multiple conversations with Patrice about this organization over the course of my time here. We continue to have them. He has too much respect for Bruce or for me, or for anybody, to make recommendations about who the coach is and who he’s going to play with,” Sweeney said. “We went through the same thing with Claude [Julien] where he played and had a lot of success. It’s more out of respect. In my conversations with him yesterday, I did not ask whether this impacts his decision. It’s Bergy’s decision and his timeline.”