Bruce Cassidy speaks at length on Jake DeBrusk situation with Toucher and Rich
Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy spoke candidly on his relationship with winger Jake DeBrusk in a new interview with 98.5 The Sports Hub’s Toucher and Rich. Listen above for the full interview.
DeBrusk is still on the Bruins’ roster after the 2022 NHL trade deadline, and even agreed to a two-year extension on Monday. Cassidy acknowledged that he and DeBrusk at times had a rocky relationship that they each needed to manage, but are in a better place now, with DeBrusk playing on the Bruins’ top line and contributing to wins.
“I like Jake as a person. He’s a good guy, he’s low maintenance, good teammate,” Cassidy said. “My issue with him has always been about pushing him, holding him accountable, second-effort type of player. Some players respond differently to that than others, so I’ve had to adjust, and so does he. Right now we’re both Boston Bruins, and he’s played well for us, to be honest with you. We’re glad to have him. He’s a good hockey player, he can help us win a Stanley Cup and everyone’s happy, and then I don’t know what’ll happen this summer, that’ll be up to his representative and [GM Don Sweeney] to sort through that.
“But he can be a good player for us, we all acknowledge that, and he has been the last, say, 6-8 weeks. He’s digging in, and that makes us better.”
DeBrusk himself spoke earlier this week, admitting it’s been a challenging time for him amid the trade rumors, but also that he feels like he has “clarity” on his situation for the first time in months.
Cassidy expounded further on his relationship with his DeBrusk, acknowledging that the winger didn’t take it well when he was healthy scratched for a game in November against the Canucks. DeBrusk’s agent requested a trade soon after. But Cassidy believes that DeBrusk and the team ultimately benefitted from it, as evidenced by their excellent play since the calendar turned to 2022.
“He wasn’t happy being sat out in November, and I get that, him and Erik Haula both,” Cassidy said. “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. [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.”
Cassidy also talked about the Bruins’ trade deadline additions and the possibility of 2021 first-round pick Fabian Lysell making an early jump to the NHL this season.
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