BOSTON (CBS) — Obviously we weren’t expecting the Bruins to set off any fireworks this summer.
Based on the recent success of their team, plus salary-cap restraints, we knew there wouldn’t be anything Earth-shattering coming out of general manager Peter Chiarelli’s office this offseason.
Still, since the Bruins lost Game 7 of the second round of the playoffs to the Montreal Canadiens, following the Bruins’ moves has been like watching 18 hours of C-Span … a day.
Boston’s summer filibuster continued Tuesday with two moves that weren’t particularly thrilling nor do they figure to have much impact on the 2014-15 edition of the Bruins.
First the Bruins announced the hiring of Joe Sacco as an assistant coach. Then they announced they re-signed defenseman David Warsofsky to a two-way contract.
Sacco replaces Geoff Ward, who left to be the head coach with Mannheim in Germany. Among his laundry list of responsibilities, Ward handled a lot of the Bruins’ power-play strategy and extra-attacker situations. In a conference call to discuss the move to fill Ward’s spot with Sacco, Bruins coach Claude Julien lauded Sacco’s experience in different roles at different levels of the game as a player, assistant coach and head coach. Julien also liked that Sacco was a forward, as opposed to former defensemen Julien and Doug Houda. Assistant coach Doug Jarvis is the only other former forward.
Without seeing the log of visitors to Julien’s office, I can guarantee you that every interviewed person had a wealth of experience and would’ve been a good fit for this staff. There’s an overflowing pool of talented people willing to become an assistant coach in the NHL. As a guy who didn’t play the game at a high level, Ward was able to bring a unique perspective to the Bruins. So now that the staff is made up of all former NHL players, the Bruins just have to hope they haven’t lost too much diversity on their staff. This doesn’t figure to be the type of thing that’ll stop Boston from finishing in the top three in the Eastern Conference.
The Sacco hiring has the added benefit of keeping Bruce Cassidy as coach with the Providence (AHL) farm club. Cassidy’s work with Boston’s prospects has been impeccable so far, as we particularly learned when the likes of Torey Krug and Matt Bartkowski stepped in late to help the Bruins reach the Stanley Cup Final in 2013. Cassidy has proven more valuable to the Bruins in that role than he maybe would be in the NHL. This is a better move for Cassidy as well, because of the way NHL general managers seem to constantly be scouring the AHL for new head coaches.
Hiring another former forward for the coaching staff isn’t going to score the 30 goals Jarome Iginla took with him when he left for the Colorado Avalanche via free agency. Signing Warsofsky as a ninth NHL-caliber defenseman also won’t make up that lost offense.
Julien briefly characterized the Bruins, toeing the party line about Loui Eriksson swooping onto the first line and picking up where Nathan Horton and then Iginla left off. And don’t worry about Eriksson’s move up the depth chart weakening the Bruins’ lower lines, Julien said, because Chris Kelly will be back and there are kids from Providence coming up to solidify the lineup.
Julien also mentioned that the summer’s not over and the Bruins are still working on some things. By now, waiting for the Bruins to do something of interest is the official activity of the summer of 2014, so we’ll see if they do anything between now and September that makes you think next summer will be highlighted by a parade.
Matt Kalman covers the Bruins for CBSBoston.com and also contributes to NHL.com and several other media outlets. Follow him on Twitter @TheBruinsBlog.
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