Cassidy: Bruins firing didn't influence returns of Bergeron, Krejci

Boston Globe / Getty

Former Boston Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy doesn't buy the narrative that his dismissal in Beantown influenced centers Patrice Bergeron's and David Krejci's decisions to return to the NHL.

"What I know about (Bergeron), we talked at the end of the year - he was upfront about, 'I'm going to take some time,'" the new Vegas Golden Knights bench boss said in an interview with Boston Sports Journal's Conor Ryan. "I don't think the decision they made with me had anything to do with Bergy."

Cassidy said Krejci was also clear about his intentions before opting to play out the 2021-22 season in his home nation of Czechia.

"He told us that his parents were getting older, he wanted his kids to get to know his grandparents," Cassidy said. "With COVID, there was a good challenge and he was going home. For how long? He said, 'I don't know. But if I come back ... listen, I'm gonna probably just come back for the Bruins.'"

Cassidy added: "With (Krejci), we never had disagreements - he wanted to play (with David Pastrnak) more than he did. Who didn't, right? He'd be the first to admit it. Hopefully he gets his chance this year."

The 2020 Jack Adams Award winner wasn't so certain about whether his dismissal swayed winger Jake DeBrusk, who rescinded his trade request about one month following Cassidy's firing.

"Only he can answer that. I thought he had a really good finish to his year. I think there was different things that went into his trade demand," Cassidy said.

"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 (he) can get in the lineup."

DeBrusk moved to the right side after being promoted to the Bruins' top line with Bergeron and Marchand in February, and saw an uptick in production for the remainder of the season.

The returns of captain Bergeron and Krejci are more than welcome for the Bruins, who are going to have to start the season without the injured Marchand and Charlie McAvoy.

Bergeron captured his fifth career Selke Trophy after another stunning campaign as a Bruin. The 37-year-old logged 25 goals - 17 of which came at even strength - and 40 assists in 73 contests.

The veteran was unsure about his playing career following the 2021-22 season, but he ultimately signed a one-year pact worth $2.5 million to stay with Boston.

Krejci, meanwhile, enjoyed a dominant stint with Olomouc HC this past campaign. He paced the team with 20 goals and 46 points in 51 games. Boston brought him back on a one-year contract worth $1 million plus an additional $2 million in incentives.

Cassidy was head coach of the Bruins for six seasons and amassed a regular-season record of 245-108-46. He steered the team to the postseason each year and made it to the Stanley Cup Final in 2019.