Cassidy on Spooner: Claude didn't like his defense; I didn't like his offense

Cassidy on Spooner: Claude didn't like his defense; I didn't like his offense

Claude Julien was never fully confident in playing Ryan Spooner, but a coaching change only made things worse for the 2010 second-round pick. 

Spooner saw his ice time cut under Bruce Cassidy, going from 14:22 a night under Julien to 13:30 with Cassidy in the regular season. He was made a healthy scratch for Games 5 and 6 of the Bruins’ first-round series against the Senators, leading to questions about the restricted free agent’s future. 

Don Sweeney was noncommittal when asked whether Spooner would remain a Bruin Thursday, but an appearance on Toucher & Rich from Cassidy on Friday might leave the player hoping for a change of scenery. 

Cassidy was his usual candid self when asked about Spooner. His words were less than flattering. 

“I thought he started well. For the talk about the end didn’t go well, we all saw it. He wasn’t in the lineup. He wasn’t 100 percent, but certainly able to play,” Cassidy said. “I think the way the series was going, he’s more of a line rush, attack-type player. Certainly his best asset is distributing the puck, so power play, and we weren’t getting on it that much, so we decided to make a switch. It was as much about what the other players [brought] — [Sean] Kuraly — who came in — [Noel] Acciari.

“Yes, Ryan, if he’s playing to his potential and beyond, he’s in the lineup. I’m not going to sit there and sugarcoat it, but at the end of the day, the other guys had brought better assets to what we needed in that series. 

“I thought it started well with Ryan. He had some confidence, some jump; we were trying to incorporate him in the penalty kill, make him more of a 200-foot player, but I’ll tell you what my issue was at the end with Ryan: It was well-documented with Claude he didn’t like his defensive game and some of the other things. For me, I didn’t like his offensive game at the end. He wasn’t playing to his strengths, and that bothers me about players, if they’re not able to play to their strengths when the temperature of the game goes up. 

“We can work with him on his weaknesses. We’re there to coach up the defensive part of it, but he wasn’t attacking and that was disconcerting to me, that he’s a guy that should be creating offense in the series where offense was hard to find and we weren’t getting enough of it, so we made the switch.” 

Cassidy was then asked about Spooner’s physicality.

“Listen, we all know he’s not that guy that’s going to be planting himself in front of the net and absorbing hits every shift, but he still needs to attack with the puck when there is some open ice,” Cassidy said. “And like I said, there wasn’t a lot, but there were creases out there where he could have used his foot speed, and that was the conversation with him. When those situations arose, we needed him to make his plays and attack. It didn’t happen, so we moved on to the next player. We’re here to win; we were kind of leaving it all out there and I thought our guys played hard, the guys that went in, so you kind of look at it as more give them credit for going in and doing their job and we’ll continue to work with Ryan. 

“Listen, he’s a special talent. We’ve just got to continue to try to pull it out of him and see where it leads us.”

Time will tell whether Spooner will be in Boston for the team to try to get that talent out of him.  

Morning Skate: Do Caps have mental block come playoff time?

Morning Skate: Do Caps have mental block come playoff time?

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading, while thinking about and praying for the people of Manchester, England. It’s obviously an evil, cowardly act to bomb any public place, but to do it at a concert filled with women and children is the lowest of the low.

*The Capitals players are acknowledging that there’s some kind of mental block with the Stanley Cup playoffs. CSN Mid-Atlantic has all the details.

*It’s been a very odd postseason for the NHL where there are so many non-traditional teams still alive with the Nashville Predators in the Stanley Cup Fina, and the Ottawa Senators fighting for their lives in the Eastern Conference Final. On that note, there is a ton of disappointment at the empty seats at the Canadian Tire Centre for Ottawa’s home games in the playoffs. It sounds like there are going to be empty seats tonight for a do-or-die Game 6 in Ottawa. That is an embarrassment for a Canadian city that’s supposed to pride itself on their love of hockey. Let’s hope the Senators fans have a last-minute surge to buy tickets and show some appreciation for a Senators team that’s given the Ottawa fans a totally unexpected ride through the postseason this spring. I mean, Erik Karlsson at the top of his game is worth the price of admission all by himself.  

*The Pittsburgh Penguins have the Senators on the ropes, and it’s been an impressive showing given that they’re doing it without Kris Letang.

*Pro Hockey Talk has the ownership for the St. Louis Blues giving their GM Doug Armstrong a vote of confidence.

*Another early exit from the playoffs is going to start making some players expendable on the New York Rangers roster.

*Here’s a good piece on how David Poile built the Nashville Predators, who have reached the Stanley Cup Final for the first time. Give credit where it’s due: He manned up and made a big move dealing away Shea Weber straight up for PK Subban. It’s really worked for Music City as they’ve stepped to the next level.

*Speaking of Nashville’s rise this spring in a wide open Western Conference, Pekka Rinne has silenced the critics he might have had by carrying his team to the Cup Final.

*For something completely different: Boston law enforcement is on high alert after the bombing of the Ariana Grande concert in the UK.

 

Haggerty: Reports of Seidenberg's demise were greatly exaggerated

Haggerty: Reports of Seidenberg's demise were greatly exaggerated

Hindsight is always 20/20, of course, but it appears the Bruins made a mistake buying out veteran defenseman Dennis Seidenberg from the final couple of years of his contract. 

Seidenberg just finished up a wildly successful stint with host Team Germany at the IIHF World Championships, where he was named Directorate Best Defenseman (the tournament’s best defenseman) after leading all D-men with a goal and eight points. This came after Seidenberg, at age 35, posted 5 goals and 22 points in 73 games for the Islanders, with whom he signed after being cut loose by the B's, while averaging a shade under 20 minutes per game.  Seidenberg also had an excellent World Cup of Hockey tournament for Team Europe last summer (where he was teamed once again with Zdeno Chara), thus managing to play at a high level from September all the way through May.

A faction of Bruins fans thought he was on the serious decline after the 2015-16 season and, clearly, the Bruins agreed, opting to buy him out with two more years still left on a sizable contract extension. (They owe him $2.16 million next season and then will be charged $1.16 million on their salary cap over the next two seasons.) But the B's could have used a durable, defensive warrior like Seidenberg in the playoffs, when they lost three of their top four defensemen against the Ottawa Senators. A rejuvenated Seidenberg, able to play both the left and right side, would have been a better option than Colin Miller.

The Bruins made a conscious decision to hand things over to younger defensemen like Miller, Torey Krug, Brandon Carlo and Joe Morrow in cutting ties with Seidenberg. But they also perhaps miscalculated how much Seidenberg still had left in the tank after his best season in at least three years. 

“Well, at the time we felt like [Seidenberg's] game had really dropped off to where we thought he couldn’t contribute, and we wanted to see if some younger players could come in and help us out,” Bruins president Cam Neely said at the end-of-the-season press conference earlier this month. “I’ve got to say he played well this year for Long Island. But at the time we thought it was the right move. You can’t envision us having three of our top four D’s get hurt [in the playoffs]. We went through a lot of D’s in the postseason. You can’t predict that.”

Neely is referring to the decision made after Seidenberg’s second straight minus season in Boston, when back injuries and a major knee injury had seemed to slow him down a bit. It seemed the only way to properly evaluate some of their other, younger defenseman was to cut Seidenberg loose, but one has to wonder if the Bruins would have possibly done it had they known he was still capable of playing like he did this season for the Islanders. 

Either way, the buyout of Seidenberg is an extremely legitimate second guess of Bruins management in a year where they did a lot of things right.