By Ty Anderson, 985TheSportsHub.com
Back home in Slovakia after another year primarily spent with the Black and Gold’s AHL affiliate, Peter Cehlarik is openly talking like a player who has had enough of shuffling between Boston and Providence in search of a permanent spot within the organization.
Speaking with his hometown media over the weekend, Cehlarik indicated that he was done with the B’s, and was looking for options outside of I-95, including those overseas. Now, I don’t speak Slovak so I can’t make out exactly what Cehlarik said, but I picked up on “Bruce Cassidy,” and I have a feeling that it wasn’t anything all that endearing based on what Cehlarik had to say about Cassidy when speaking with another Slovak media outlet earlier this month.
“I can’t cross the line to persuade Bruins [coach] Bruce Cassidy for good,” Cehlarik, who recorded one helper in three games with the Big B’s this year, said back then. “Sometimes I felt as if he was just waiting for my mistake to send me back to the farm.
“They know what they are doing. They’ve invested years of development in me. It’s all about trust from a coach I don’t get. I still hear that I’m ready for the NHL, I have it, but when it goes like this, I need a change and a new start. It is high time.”
Even Google Translate can’t mess up the overall message behind what Cehlarik was saying here: He’s done waiting for another NHL chance he doesn’t feel is coming. And reality of his situation may have finally set in.
In town since 2016, the 2013 third-round pick has skated in 185 games with the P-Bruins, and though he’s been highly productive over that 185-game sample in the minors (59 goals and 136 points), Cehlarik has made his way into action for just 40 NHL games. And he’s never played in more than 20 games for Boston in any of those four years since jumping to North America. This 2019-20 campaign featured some of Cehlarik’s heaviest criticism from Boston’s bench boss, too, with Cassidy openly critiquing Cehlarik’s game as “average” after a Nov. 2 meeting with the Senators.
“If [Cehlarik]’s going to stay in the National Hockey League, you’ve got to play to your strengths,” Cassidy said back on Nov. 2. “And I thought he had opportunities to make plays. He made a few here and there, but I thought he left some on the table. At the end of the day, the details we’ll keep getting after him about, so overall, I thought he was OK.
“His ideal place in the lineup is with skilled centermen, and I’d like to think we have three of them.”
It’s worth noting that Cehlarik would make just one more appearance for the Big B’s after that public tongue-lashing — and with a skilled center in David Krejci — before it was back to the minors. Seemingly for good.
While Cehlarik seems to have his backers within the fanbase, the truth is that he’s never grabbed hold of any of his opportunities on a consistent enough basis to warrant a full look that would’ve resulted in a legitimate roster move elsewhere.
The Bruins fed him offensive-zone starts again and again upon his NHL cameos, and while there would be an occasional dazzle that gave you hope, it never carried over. That or when he did grab hold of his chance, an injury followed. Every damn time. The same thing happened just this past preseason when Cehlarik was in make-or-break territory.
In the blink of an eye, Cehlarik found himself seriously trailing behind both Anders Bjork and Karson Kuhlman (and even Zach Senyshyn) on the organizational depth chart, and his road back to Boston didn’t get any easier following the B’s acquisitions of Nick Ritchie and Ondrej Kase. In fact, the road closed entirely.
It will be interesting to see if any other NHL opportunities are truly out there for Cehlarik, as the 24-year-old went unclaimed on waivers before the season began, and was not part of either of the B’s deadline deals.