The Boston Bruins plan to bring back their general manager, Don Sweeney, despite a disappointing end to the 2021-22 NHL season. But what about head coach Bruce Cassidy -- will he be on the bench when the 2022-23 campaign begins?
B's president Cam Neely revealed Thursday during his end-of-season press conference that the team intends to work out a new contract with Sweeney.
In regards to Cassidy's future, Neely did not express the same level of certainty.
“I think we have to look at making some changes as far as how we play and the way we do some of the things,” Neely said. “I think Bruce is a fantastic coach. He’s brought a lot of success to this organization. I like him as a coach. So we’ll see where it goes. I do think we need to make some changes, and I think Bruce, a couple days ago, alluded to that. So we’ll see where that goes.”
When asked if he expects Cassidy to be back, Neely said, “I haven’t really talked to Don about it yet. He hasn’t really given me an indication, probably because he wasn’t really sure what his situation was.”
Neely also noted a decision on whether Cassidy returns will be Sweeney's call.
The Bruins do need to make some stylistic changes to how they play. The B's have to generate more 5-on-5 offense, which was an issue throughout the regular season and their first-round playoff series loss to the Carolina Hurricanes.
Cassidy has proven adaptable in his career, though. He's also shown an ability to make the necessary in-season changes to jumpstart his team. His decision in early January to break up the first line and put David Pastrnak with Taylor Hall and Erik Haula on the second line was a home run. Promoting Jake DeBrusk to first-line right wing worked out, too. The Bruins arguably were the league's best team from January through March.
Cassidy is an excellent coach, and firing him would be a massive mistake. He got plenty of production out of this roster despite its massive flaws, including the lack of a real No. 2 center and consistent secondary scoring.
Sweeney signed three veteran forwards -- Erik Haula, Tomas Nosek and Nick Foligno -- in free agency last summer to address the team's scoring depth, and neither player made a strong impact in Round 1. Nosek didn't score a single goal after Jan. 2 and Foligno scored twice all season. Sweeney failed to replace second-line center David Krejci, who left the team last offseason.
A change at general manager makes more sense than a change behind the bench. Cassidy deserves at least one more season to help the Bruins achieve the success they desire.