Claude Julien was never fully confident in playing Ryan Spooner, but a coaching change only made things worse for the 2010 second-round pick.
Spooner saw his ice time cut under Bruce Cassidy, going from 14:22 a night under Julien to 13:30 with Cassidy in the regular season. He was made a healthy scratch for Games 5 and 6 of the Bruins’ first-round series against the Senators, leading to questions about the restricted free agent’s future.
Don Sweeney was noncommittal when asked whether Spooner would remain a Bruin Thursday, but an appearance on Toucher & Rich from Cassidy on Friday might leave the player hoping for a change of scenery.
Cassidy was his usual candid self when asked about Spooner. His words were less than flattering.
“I thought he started well. For the talk about the end didn’t go well, we all saw it. He wasn’t in the lineup. He wasn’t 100 percent, but certainly able to play,” Cassidy said. “I think the way the series was going, he’s more of a line rush, attack-type player. Certainly his best asset is distributing the puck, so power play, and we weren’t getting on it that much, so we decided to make a switch. It was as much about what the other players [brought] — [Sean] Kuraly — who came in — [Noel] Acciari.
“Yes, Ryan, if he’s playing to his potential and beyond, he’s in the lineup. I’m not going to sit there and sugarcoat it, but at the end of the day, the other guys had brought better assets to what we needed in that series.
“I thought it started well with Ryan. He had some confidence, some jump; we were trying to incorporate him in the penalty kill, make him more of a 200-foot player, but I’ll tell you what my issue was at the end with Ryan: It was well-documented with Claude he didn’t like his defensive game and some of the other things. For me, I didn’t like his offensive game at the end. He wasn’t playing to his strengths, and that bothers me about players, if they’re not able to play to their strengths when the temperature of the game goes up.
“We can work with him on his weaknesses. We’re there to coach up the defensive part of it, but he wasn’t attacking and that was disconcerting to me, that he’s a guy that should be creating offense in the series where offense was hard to find and we weren’t getting enough of it, so we made the switch.”
Cassidy was then asked about Spooner’s physicality.
“Listen, we all know he’s not that guy that’s going to be planting himself in front of the net and absorbing hits every shift, but he still needs to attack with the puck when there is some open ice,” Cassidy said. “And like I said, there wasn’t a lot, but there were creases out there where he could have used his foot speed, and that was the conversation with him. When those situations arose, we needed him to make his plays and attack. It didn’t happen, so we moved on to the next player. We’re here to win; we were kind of leaving it all out there and I thought our guys played hard, the guys that went in, so you kind of look at it as more give them credit for going in and doing their job and we’ll continue to work with Ryan.
“Listen, he’s a special talent. We’ve just got to continue to try to pull it out of him and see where it leads us.”
Time will tell whether Spooner will be in Boston for the team to try to get that talent out of him.