Bruce Cassidy discussed Jake DeBrusk’s role with the Bruins, what his ‘issue’ has been

"Some players respond to that differently than others, so I've had to adjust, and so did he."

Jake DeBrusk Bruce Cassidy
Jake DeBrusk celebrates after scoring during a Bruins-Kings game in Feb. 2022. AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill

When the NHL trade deadline passed on Monday, Jake DeBrusk — despite a months-long trade request — was still a member of the Bruins.

DeBrusk, 25, has 15 goals and 11 assists for Boston in 58 games. Prior to the trade deadline, he signed a two-year extension on his contract worth $4 million.

On Wednesday, Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy offered his thoughts on DeBrusk in an interview with 98.5 The Sports Hub’s “Toucher & Rich.”

“I can’t speak for him, but obviously when we signed Taylor Hall, he’s a left winger, so is Jake. You’ve got [Marchand] in front of him, Taylor in front of him,” Cassidy said. “Did that block his path? We’ve been open to playing him on the right side. [Pastrnak’s] over there, but there’s another spot. That didn’t go as well last year, or the year before. This year it’s going fine. We’ve moved him up with [Bergeron] and [Marchand].


“He’s done a good job there. So maybe that had something to do with him being a little more comfortable here,” Cassidy added.

One part of DeBrusk’s request reportedly pertained to a deteriorating relationship with Cassidy.

“Our relationship’s been talked about,” Cassidy admitted. “I like Jake as a person. He’s a good guy. He’s low-maintenance, good teammate. My issue with him has always been about pushing him, holding him accountable, second-effort-type of player. Some players respond to that differently than others, so I’ve had to adjust, and so did he.

“Right now we’re both Boston Bruins and he’s played well for us, to be honest with you, and we’re glad to have him,” said Cassidy. “He’s a good hockey player and he can help us win a Stanley Cup.”

In November, Cassidy decided to use DeBrusk as an example to the rest of the team’s veterans, benching him in favor of younger players for a game against Vancouver (the Bruins won, 3-2).

“He wasn’t happy being sat out in November, and I get that, him and Erik Haula both,” Cassidy explained. “We just decided to go in a different direction with some younger guys that maybe had been working hard in practice. The team wasn’t going well. They happened to be the two that we chose [to sit], so I know that didn’t sit well for a veteran guy, I understand that, but I’ve got to do what’s right for the team and always will. So, I can look back and say, ‘Should I have done it? Should’ve I done this or that?’ I did it. We usually look at what happens next. We won a few games, so the message was sent, and sometimes it’s for other guys too. ‘Hey I could be next, if I want my spot in the lineup I better dig in here.’


“There’s a little bit of different reasons why you do that. It’s not always exactly on the player,” Cassidy continued. “[DeBrusk] just became a guy that I chose, and at the end of the day that made [his trade request] public after that. So we worked through some things, obviously got to where we are now, and here we are. So there’s no use looking back. We’re looking forward, trying to win a Stanley Cup now with the group we have in the room, and he’s part of that.”

Looking even farther forward, beyond the current season, Cassidy remains unsure of DeBrusk’s Bruins future.

“I don’t know what will happen this summer,” said Cassidy. “That will be up to him and his representative and [Don Sweeney], but he can be a good player for us. We all acknowledge that, and he has been the last I’d say 6-8 weeks. He’s digging in, and that makes us better.”


This discussion has ended. Please join elsewhere on