The morning after firing coach Bruce Cassidy, Bruins general manager Don Sweeney acknowledged the possibility the team could be heading for a rebuild.
The Bruins of 2022-23 will start the season without Brad Marchand, Charlie McAvoy, and Matt Grzelcyk (all injured) and could be reeling from the loss of Patrice Bergeron to retirement. They will be incorporating young players in their lineup. They do not expect to go all-out this summer to add in free agency. They don’t have much cap space.
What would prevent what Sweeney termed a “directional shift” would be youth stepping up, players returning well from injuries, and Bergeron sticking around.
When he spoke Tuesday morning, Sweeney had no clarity on the captain’s call. Bergeron, he said, was not asked to weigh in on Cassidy’s future.
“Our group, what we were able to accomplish during the bulk of the year, January, February and March, is a good hockey team,” Sweeney said to a room full of assembled media at Warrior Ice Arena. “That being said, with the injuries we have, where the players come back health-wise, that could dictate that (rebuild decision). The start we get off to may dictate that.
“We’re a competitive group and we’re going to remain a competitive group, but we may need to infuse (younger players) at some point in time,” Sweeney said. “You have injuries and things that catch up to you, that you just can’t get out from under, that’s a problem. The Bergeron (decision) … could be a directional shift.”
Cassidy made the playoffs in each of his six seasons, reaching the second round four times and the Stanley Cup Final once. But the messaging got stale, Sweeney said.
When reached late Monday by the Globe via text, Cassidy declined to comment, noting that emotions were “still very raw.” Sweeney said both sides left feeling unhappy.
“Not well,” Sweeney said. “As I didn’t in delivering (the news). I sat there and said I’m the same guy that six years ago sat with you to believe in you, and I sat there yesterday believing in him as an excellent head coach. I just made a very difficult decision.”