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Cassidy Firing Reaction: Welcome to the Crossroads

Both roads lead to pain, but one pain is easier to accept than the other.

Cleveland Cavaliers v Boston Celtics - Game Two Photo by David Dow/NBAE via Getty Images

So the B’s fired Bruce Cassidy. Quite suddenly, and without warning, meaning that the hunt for a new Head Coach is on, we’ll talk about that later.

What this does confirm however, is that the Boston Bruins are currently at a crossroads, deciding amongst themselves after another ignomious Game 7 defeat by a team who was deeper at forward than they are what they are and want to be.

Regardless of how it ended, he absolutely Was Not the Problem.

Bruce Cassidy had six straight seasons with a winning percentage of .650%, even considering that he’d ended up with a single appearance in the Stanley Cup Finals, started his tenure halfway through a season, and went through two shortened seasons, that’s still quite impressive. He had one of the better defensive structures in the NHL, and in general...was just a pretty damn good coach.

Now, there are quite a few suddenly quite prescient and why-the-hell-didnt-this-come-up-sooner-level reports from all around that some players on the team weren’t huge fans of Cassidy, and that’s fine, it’s okay to not be fans of your boss, and if it happened to be the young players...well, I can’t really muster a defense, Cassidy was famously quite stringent with younger talent and if that rubbed people the wrong way, fair play to them. Being a prick and not accepting the youths to be young is a fair criticism of a coach. It was much of the same thing that got Claude Julien canned.

...But that still isn’t really why the team had it’s struggles: It was because they weren’t very well constructed, or replenished with good young talent frequently enough.

The teams that are in the Conference Finals, and the ones expected to win out and go to the SCF are teams that built huge prospect systems and correctly identified and purchased value for their teams and their coaches while still having faith they could build for the future. Can the Bruins say they have that?

I’m not quite sure they can. Cassidy never picked the draftees, and I’m pretty sure we’d have heard about him knocking down Don Sweeney’s door demanding John Moore or Nick Foligno or he’d walk. He’d always seemed pretty capable of doing whatever he could with the players he had...it’s just that more often than not, it wasn’t very much at all unless his stars hit a hot streak.

And now the team stands staring at the picket sign that points in two directions. Both of them lead to a kind of pain.

They’re either looking down the path of retooling...

Which will hurt, but it’s possible. It will require a ton of work on the part of the GM to begin to move bodies and find value for them, but it can be done.

Cassidy’s ability to coach and his system, combined with any amount of Bergeron, even with the team as it currently stands, could win enough games to keep any possible future draft pick down in the mid-teens in upcoming drafts where the big talent is in the top 5. If it was done to get a fresh voice that would be willing to let the team maybe indulge in it’s worst traits to get there, then sure. Go on ahead. I will grin and bear it.

Just remember that there are still scouts who’ve Pooh-pooh’d skill players over what I can only describe as “pre-packaged Bruins” as well. If you’re going to do this? You’re going to need new voices to start fixing the prospect system, development, the works. Nearly everybody’s gotta be switched out and soon.

Cassidy cannot be the only person fired this summer, if this is the road they go down.

...Or they take the road of the mid-to-late-2010’s Red Wings.

Remember those Red Wings? Other than the fact that the Bruins usually got beat by them?

I definitely remember why that was so infuriating: They should’ve beaten those Red Wings handily, because pretty much everybody else did. They were awful and just kept getting worse and worse and worse every year until they at long last admitted it wasn’t working. A big part of why they were so bad is because they simply tried to stretch their playoff streak (and more importantly, their playoff gate) as long as humanly possible, at the expense of everything and gave out terrible, poorly thought-out contracts and overvalued veterans; and as a result of all of that the Red Wings of today are still trying to crawl their way out of hell.

They do have the inklings of becoming something great, but it’s still going to take time for them to become contenders until the sins of the past are burnt away.

We already got the weird contracts and poor drafting down. Might as well see if a gruesome first round exit seals the deal. If this is the way it’s going, be prepared for abject agony.

Or, the third option, do nothing, and wait for someone else to walk these paths.

Look they could very easily be trying to save their jobs in order to keep the hydra known as the Jacobs Family quiet. It would be absolutely obnoxious and would reveal quite a bit about how both Sweeney and to an unknown extent Neely see things, but hey! It’s an option.

It’s a bad option, but it’s an option.

It’s gonna be hard on whoever they hire no matter what.

Now, let’s be optimistic and assume that say...any one of Gryz, Reilly, or Mac are in fact healed up by the time the regular season start. At best, your left side looks disastrous, or you’re without your best defender and winger for like...a month. And you have to make your new system work with a bunch of these players, many of whom were already struggling mightily under Cassidy.

If the B’s had a middling to poor season under their new hire just from the first two months being a complete gong show, I don’t think it would surprise anybody. I know we’d complain, but it wouldn’t be surprising.

Sweeney has spent his last bullet.

Sweeney’s decision here is more or less a bet that he can continue to be able to convince name players to come to Boston, and maybe good players at that, and to continue the current march to the playoffs.

He will not have the coach for it, he will arguably have the goaltending for it, and he will not have any centers worth remembering unless Bergeron and Krejci sign tomorrow, and even then, Bergeron will be recovering from an injury. He has moved body after body after body in order to save his job, and up till recently, it’s succeeded. He’s unloaded the chamber, and now the only person with a target left on his back is him.

Even hiring a knockout big name coach like Barry Trotz wouldn’t entirely save him. Because any failure would land squarely on him; the weight of his tenure finally collapsing down on him.

For his sake, he’d better knock this one out of the park.


Because both paths lead to pain, and doing this means the first step has been made. We’ll have to see where it leads when the regular season begins.

Poll

What do you think is happening here?

This poll is closed

  • 60%
    Sweeney and Neely are trying to save their own jobs
    (559 votes)
  • 4%
    Change was needed in the locker room! The Bruins needed a new voice!
    (44 votes)
  • 16%
    They’re trying to smooth out something in the locker room by kicking out the identified problem while not fixing the bigger ones
    (154 votes)
  • 17%
    Change for change’s sake. There is no plan. Eat Arby’s.
    (160 votes)
917 votes total Vote Now