Bruins

What role did players have in Bruins firing Cassidy? Sweeney explains

Bruins
Bruce Cassidy Patrice Bergeron

Bruce Cassidy boasts the fourth-best winning percentage (67.2 percent) of any head coach in Bruins franchise history and guided Boston to six playoff appearances in six seasons.

So, why did the Bruins fire him Monday night?

In a press conference Tuesday morning, general manager Don Sweeney suggested it was time for a new voice after Cassidy's five-plus seasons at the helm. Considering Sweeney's comments and team president Cam Neely's remarks last month that some of Boston's younger players were "afraid to make mistakes" under Cassidy, it's fair to wonder if the Bruins' players led a call to move on from their head coach.

Why Bruins firing Bruce Cassidy fails to address team's real issue

Sweeney dismissed that narrative Tuesday.

"They're not driving the bus in terms of making my decisions," Sweeney said.

Whether you believe Sweeney or not, the Bruins GM insisted he and his players were on the same page about this season falling short of expectations after a first-round playoff loss to the Carolina Hurricanes.

"It doesn't matter what they're necessarily saying individually," Sweeney said. "It's collectively as a group and how much they think they accomplish, and they agreed with me because I used the statement that we had left something on the table, and they felt the same way."

While Cassidy's firing came as a surprise to many (including Cassidy himself), Sweeney believes it was time for a change.

 

"Young or old, I think there's a message delivery that I think a new voice will resonate with them," Sweeney said.

Sweeney also dismissed speculation that Patrice Bergeron influenced Boston's decision to fire Cassidy. The 36-year-old is set to become a free agent this offseason and has yet to decide whether he'll return for a 19th NHL season after recently undergoing elbow surgery.

"I've had multiple conversations with Patrice about this organization over the course of my time here and continue to have them," Cassidy said. "He has too much respect for Bruce or for me or for anybody to make a recommendation about the coaches and who he's going to play with.

"... In my conversations with him yesterday, I did not ask whether this impacts his decision. It's Bergy's decision and his timeline."

The Bruins' search for a new head coach should begin immediately and is one of several important tasks facing Sweeney and Boston management this offseason. How the team responds to Cassidy's replacement could go a long way in determining whether the B's can compete in 2022-23.