Bruins’ brass bring closure to 2016-17; look ahead to 2017-18
Tuesday morning – the closure; Tuesday morning – the beginning.
It’s the annual press conference by the Bruins’ ownership, owner Jeremy Jacobs, CEO Charlie Jacobs and President Cam Neely, to comment on the past season’s successes – and look forward to what might be in the next.
No surprise about the major themes at Tuesday’s press conference around the past season. Or the transition pieces to the future.
“I think we had a successful season because of what evolved,” Jeremy Jacobs said about the mid-season firing of Claude Julien and the bump in title to interim head coach for Bruce Cassidy. “The changing of the guard in our coaching ranks, and I think our leadership showed itself very well.
“I think hope springs eternal and we set off hoping and looking forward to extending the season. I think we did a tremendous job once we had Butch [Bruce Cassidy] in place, so I’m happy with where we are and I’m happy with the next generation of players coming into this organization.”
“We’re excited about them and whether or not they can push for jobs remains to be seen,” Neely added about new Bruins’ blood that has to contribute. “But, we’re certainly going to look and see what transpires in the offseason and see if we can plug a couple of those holes.”
Those holes, in order of priority, are: adding more scoring to the middle of the lineup (especially at left wing), getting more value from David Backes, and shoring up the defense – again on the left side.
“Whether we have someone on the left side on the back end that can push for a job or we go out and find that player,” Neely said about adding help on defense. “But, I think our right side on the back end is pretty well covered. Maybe a little bit of help on the left side on the wing that can maybe contribute offensively.”
As for Backes, who came to Boston for five years at six million a year and left a lot to be desired on offense, Neely said: “David had a hard time adjusting. He mentioned that at the end of the year that it was more of a challenge to come to a new city and a new team and get to know 22 to 24 other players. That took a while for him to get adjusted. I feel like David is really built for the type of playoff hockey you have to have and play to go deep. I feel he’s a great leader. He’s helped the young kids a ton. If he can pick up a little bit of a step in his game, which he’s going to work on in the offseason, I think that’s going to be beneficial for him and us.”
When Mr. Jacobs was pressed to explain parallel decisions about performance in his other businesses, he said: “I think this is – well, this is different. It’s a sports franchise and it’s evolving. We went a particular direction and we had a seat change in direction, so I think there’s been substantive change. Change for the sake of changing, as you know, is not an intelligent move. I think this is a practical and intelligent approach to dealing with the franchise’s emergence today.”
Upper management now turns its eyes to GM Don Sweeney to deal with that emergence.
“Anytime you’re a first time GM, there’s growing pains and learning experiences that you go through,” Neely said about Sweeney. “His work ethic is second to none and he thinks not just short term about the team but also long term when he sat down with us and kind of laid out what he thought was a vision of how to get our team back to where we want to be and in a sustainable period of time.”
“Having said that,” Neely added, “he also said there would be some bumps along the way, especially early, and there has been. Would everybody like to look back and make different decisions? Yeah, we all would. Don’s no different. But, the overall package for me, with Don, is I think he’s done a really good job of directing certain people in the organization to what we’re looking for. Where the team is right now and where it looks to be going, I think the future is bright.”
Only five months to the opening faceoff of the 2017-18 season.