BOSTON (CBS) — Bruins forward Ryan Spooner made some headlines on Tuesday when he said that he didn’t believe former head coach Claude Julien liked him all that much. Now, Spooner has some company.
Fellow young Bruins forward Frank Vatrano joined Toucher & Rich on Thursday morning, and he said his relationship with the former coach was not always a great one, because Julien tended to trust his veteran players more than the younger players in certain spots.
“For me, it’s hard to say what goes on in that kind of situation,” Vatrano said with regard to Spooner’s comment. “For me, I didn’t have the best relationship with Claude, but that comes with time. Obviously now, [Bruce Cassidy] is our coach. I have a real good relationship with him, having had him last year for a year. Obviously Claude had his guys and he trusted his guys that he’s had for a while, which is something that you can understand, especially … he’s got a good relationship with them. At the end of the day, I didn’t have the best relationship with him, but I think he liked me as a player and I liked playing for him while he was here.”
Having played for Cassidy in the AHL, Vatrano feels a better connection with Cassidy.
“Right when I signed out of college, he was my first coach in pro,” Vatrano said. “Obviously last year was my first year in pro, and he coached me in Providence and he was great to me and put me in a spot to do what I do best, and put me in a spot to succeed. Now that he’s here in Boston, I think it’s been better for me. … He knows where to use me and the way I’m going to be successful in this league.”
Vatrano stressed that Julien did like him as a player, but the part about not having “the best relationship” seemed to have to do with opportunities such as getting on the power play.
As for not always being in Claude’s good graces?
“I never really had to deal with that,” Vatrano said. “Sometimes it’s different when he has those other guys that are his guys in those spots, and you think there’s a spot that you can be playing in. It’s just tough when he has those relationships with guys who have been there and you think you have proven yourself to play in some of those spots, but maybe it comes with seniority and all that stuff. But that’s the kind of stuff that happens.”
Vatrano spoke to the difference in coaching style between Julien and Cassidy.
“Claude was a great coach, obviously. He was very successful in Boston, he was the all-time winning coach here in Boston. He plays a little bit more of a defensive style and preaches defense. [Cassidy] is kind of a coach that does both. He likes the offensive side of the game, but he also wants you to be responsible defensively. Playing for him, he kind of encourages you [and tells you] to go out there and don’t worry about making mistakes, because then you’re not going to be playing at your very best. So just go out there and trust your skills.”
As for Julien going to the Canadiens, Vatrano said it took the Bruins by surprise.
“Obviously it’s a little bit tough when you see him going to the Canadiens, but I think that even gives us a reason to not like Montreal, and we’ll just play against them,” Vatrano said.
Vatrano has four goals and three assists in seven games since Cassidy took over as head coach. He had six goals and three assists in his 21 previous games.
Vatrano was also asked about his new teammate (and probable new linemate) Drew Stafford.
“Being a fan of hockey and watching hockey and all that stuff, he’s obviously a great player. He’s had some great success in this league when he was in Buffalo and he’s had some success in Winnipeg, too. So I think he’s going to add some depth to our team and can add some scoring to our lineup.”
Vatrano also discussed the stresses of trade deadline day and more. Listen below.