Even if Bergeron and Krejci return, the Boston Bruins will look slightly different in the fall. Brad Marchand (hip), Matt Grzelcyk (left shoulder), Charlie McAvoy (right shoulder) and Mike Reilly (ankle) will all miss at least the first month of the season following their respective off-season surgeries.
But now, Sweeney and Cam Neely face a tumultuous summer. Boston’s GM and team President faced significant backlash after canning a fan favorite behind the bench. They put him in a tough predicament and Cassidy got the most out of whatever team Sweeney assembled over his six seasons.
The fanbase doesn’t have faith in Sweeney following his shaky record. Amid his latest unpopular decision, Sweeney remains confident in his abilities as general manager.
“I don’t think I’ve lost faith in myself as a manager. I don’t think our winning percentage over the last six years, seven years that I’ve been a general manager would necessarily support that,” Sweeney said to the press during Wednesday’s press conference. “That’s why I stand up here today to try and make the necessary changes.”
The underwhelming drafting and development under the Sweeney regime, along with mixed results on the trade and free-agent markets, wasted the latter half of Bergeron’s, Krejci’s and Zdeno Chara’s careers.
Now they have to fix a self-inflicted wound with Cassidy’s dismissal. And they’ll begin that process with the search for Cassidy’s replacement.
“I have a list of candidates,” Sweeney said. “But the search is going to take me some time to go through and do my due diligence and continue to talk to our staff and interview from a wide base and learn about what other people outside the game, how they view our younger players and how they view our team as it is.”
Sweeney’s due diligence might lead him to a top name like Barry Trotz, who, like Cassidy, was unceremoniously fired after the New York Islanders failed to qualify for the playoffs following back-to-back appearances in the NHL’s final four. But given the questions surrounding the team potentially entering rebuilding mode, they may opt for someone like former Rangers head coach David Quinn or ex-P-Bruins bench boss and current Kraken assistant Jay Leach.
Whoever Sweeney hires will have their hands full with the thin center depth and the quartet of injuries to start the year. Aside from Fabian Lysell, the prospect system doesn’t pose many candidates to potentially begin their NHL careers next season.
And now they may have a disgruntled star on their hands.
According to Fluto Shinzawa of The Athletic, the Bruins may explore trading David Pastrnak. The crafty Czech superstar has one more year remaining on his deal. He’ll get a significant raise from his $6.66 million per year salary.
But Pastrnak watched the last few years as Krejci, Torey Krug and others departed the organization under Sweeney’s watch. Pastrnak’s game blossomed under Cassidy’s watch, beginning with their time in Providence. Perhaps the Cassidy firing marks the final straw of Pastrnak’s stellar tenure in Boston.
For all of Sweeney’s misguided transactions, he’s managed to keep a good core intact under fair market value. Pastrnak, Marchand, McAvoy and even Brandon Carlo all signed contract extensions under Sweeney’s watch that benefitted both parties. And perhaps they’ll right the ship with Pastrnak when the two sides meet for contract talks in July.
Even if Bergeron returns, the Bruins eventually have to go into full rebuild mode. Another retooling timeframe will only delay that inevitability.
But given the Sweeney/Neely track record, the Bruins may have self-inflicted themselves into rebuild mode following Cassidy’s ill-timed dismissal.
Tim Rosenthal serves as the Managing Editor of Bruins Daily. He started contributing videos to the site in 2010 before fully coming on board during the Bruins' Stanley Cup run in 2011. His bylines over the last decade have been featured on Boston.com, FoxSports.com, College Hockey News, Patch and Inside Hockey. You can follow Tim on Twitter @_TimRosenthal.
Bruins Daily is a NHL credentialed media organization that is dedicated to being the leading provider of Boston Bruins news, analysis, and commentary, by focusing exclusively on the Boston organization. Bruins Daily provides written content, studio produced video, and on location video, all with a unique voice that fans can relate to. Complete coverage is provided through all of the latest NHL/AHL news, updates, scores, injuries, transactions and fan events.