The Bruins are still a couple of weeks away from getting together for a July 10 start to NHL training camp, but the date is getting closer with each passing day.
A handful of Bruins players have been working out in small groups at Warrior Ice Arena over the last few weeks, and more players are filtering back into Boston with the report date for Phase 3 training camp looming.
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Bruce Cassidy has been in contact with many of the Bruins' players over the last three months while the regular season was on pause and confirmed that nobody has voiced any reservations about returning to play this summer.
There aren’t any Bruins expected to opt out of playing this summer, but that the organization would do whatever it could to accommodate any players who have family issues, health concerns or any other reasons for not wanting to suit up.
“We haven’t had a lot of [that discussion], to tell you the truth,” said Cassidy, during a Monday Zoom video call with reporters. “A lot of the players would discuss that internally, and we’ve discussed that with the leaders [of the team] and gotten good feedback for where the players feel like they’re at. Now that could change as we get closer [to playing]. Maybe some more positive tests within the group could affect the way guys feel, but so far so good with our guys.
[It’s true] in terms of needing to be careful. It’s certainly an unknown time and the older you get, it seems to be that you’re more at risk. So the coaches certainly factor into that equation. So I get it. But right now, our entire group is healthy: Coaching staff, equipment staff and players. We feel pretty confident. That can always change, of course, but I think right now we all feel pretty confident about going back to work.
"The NHL will do their absolute best to make sure we’re as safe as possible. These are their assets moving forward, so they’re going to make sure they get it right while still putting a really good product on the ice getting back to what we do best. We’re balancing those two things. Until there’s an outbreak for lack of a better term, I think we’re going to try to handle it as we’ve done so far. They’ve been pretty delicate about it. We’re slowly ramping up and hopefully they get the formula right and everybody feels really safe about going back to work.”
Cassidy said if there were indeed any Bruins players who felt uncomfortable about returning to play this summer, the individual players would ultimately be able to make the call for themselves.
“I’d try to get to the root of it. Is there a health issue or is there something deeper there? Obviously, we’d have to bring management in and there would be a discussion, but I don’t know how we would stop them. To me it would be that simple. It’s a player’s right to be able to work in a safe environment. That’s why the NHL is doing everything they can,” said Cassidy. “They want their players participating and that’s the challenge that they have. That’s the way we would handle it. We would see if there was somebody that could make them feel comfortable about it on the medical side. It would be another area we would have to look at. Maybe a doctor can answer whatever questions they might have. But at the end of the day, if that’s how they felt, then we would honor their request.”
If any NHL players do indeed opt out of the Return to Play, it’s not expected to formally happen until after the NHLPA votes on the entire return-to-play format in the coming week. But it sounds like the Bruins feel pretty securely that nobody on their roster is going to opt out for a hockey club that’s going to have every opportunity to hoist a Stanley Cup this summer in perhaps the most challenging environment in league history.