Cassidy reacts to DeBrusk rescinding his Bruins trade request originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston
The Boston Bruins fired head coach Bruce Cassidy on June 6. About a month later, reports surfaced that winger Jake DeBrusk had rescinded his trade request. B's general manager Don Sweeney confirmed it July 6, just prior to the 2022 NHL Draft.
Did Cassidy's departure cause DeBrusk to change his mind about being in Boston?
Cassidy, in an effort to maximize DeBrusk's production, was hard on the 25-year-old winger at times. DeBrusk was also a healthy scratch on a few occasions in recent years, and he has been among the most inconsistent players on the roster during that stretch.
Cassidy recently was asked about DeBrusk returning to the Bruins in an interview with Greg Bedard of the Boston Sports Journal.
“The Jake one? Only he can answer that. I thought he had a really good finish to his year," said Cassidy, who was hired as Vegas Golden Knights head coach in mid-June. "I think there was different things that went into his trade demand. We just signed Taylor Hall to a long-term contract, who was a left winger. (Brad Marchand) had a long-term contract, so there may have been some issues of how high I can get in the lineup.
"I think the thing that worked out with Jake is he switched to play the right wing and that really helped him get more ice time and play with higher-end players. So that was a good thing for him to be amenable to that switch. But only he can answer that."
DeBrusk did finish the 2021-22 season quite well, scoring 10 goals in the final 19 games to bring his total to 25 goals in 77 games overall. It was the second time he scored 25-plus goals in a single campaign.
What would be Cassidy's message for a player like DeBrusk to keep improving?
"Those messages have all been sent, to be honest with you. I'm a Knight now, he's a Bruin," Cassidy said. "I've said this many times. Jake is a good person. He was low maintenance in terms of dealing with them. My message always with Jake was in an every-day league, every day be ready to play, be at your best, second effort — that makes you climb up the ladder of the league in terms of going from a good player to a great player. And I think he has the ability to be a great player. So that's my job as a coach to push him to that level. How you push them from player to player is always something you re-evaluate.
"And we did with Jake and every other player — there comes a time when they earn more rope. And there are times we have to remind them of the process. He is a good player in the league and he is really, really good because he's got elite skating and he can finish. It's kind of, at some point, on the player to push through to get to the next level, like Marchy and (David Pastrnak) in the past. So he may get to that age where now's the time. Maybe a different voice could be the time. We'll see."
It's a tremendous opportunity for DeBrusk to get off to a good start and help carry the offense with first-line left winger Brad Marchand expected to miss about a month of the regular season rehabbing from hip surgery.