How Do Bruins Improve Jake DeBrusk? Bruce Cassidy Seeks ‘Common Ground’

'My conversations with Jake would have been too raw the day after'


Jun 14, 2021

The Bruins need more from Jake DeBrusk, that much is evident. How they go about getting it at this point is the difficult part.

Boston head coach Bruce Cassidy hopes conversations in the coming days will help in the search for answers when it comes to getting the forward back on track in his career.

We’ve clearly seen flashes of the former first-round pick’s potential in recent seasons. He scored a career-high 27 goals in just 68 games back in 2018-19 but has struggled more and more to find consistency in recent seasons. That all culminated this season with DeBrusk being a healthy scratch both in the regular season and playoffs, most notably sitting out Game 5 of Boston’s second-round series with the Islanders.

“I think with Jake, there needs to be a little time, personally. My conversations with Jake would have been too raw the day after,” Cassidy said Monday morning in his pre-summer video conference with reporters.

“So the players had some time to themselves. We’re gonna sit down this week, now that we’ve both digested a little bit of the season and say, ‘OK, let’s find some common ground on where you see yourself fitting into this lineup and where I feel you need to be better and see if we can sort through some of the stuff now that the season is over.'”

The hope, Cassidy said, is there can be some sort of breakthrough that clearly didn’t happen during the regular season. DeBrusk scored just five goals in 41 games, and his head coach took exception to his effort level at times.

“Sometimes in season,” Cassidy explained, “players are just gonna tell you what you wanna hear at times, so it will be up to me to get a little more, dig a little deeper with him so we can get to the root of ‘OK, what’s going to make you the best player?’ We’ve tried that, don’t get me wrong. In season, players have meetings with coaches, assistant coaches, etc., but you’re always on to the next game. You can get through some of it, but maybe this will be a little longer process with Jake.”

The most frustrating aspect of the entire DeBrusk situation is how good he has been at times. He averaged 20 goals per season over his first three years in the league and his five-goal playoff series against Toronto in 2018 was a career highlight. When he’s engaged, he’s a difference-maker who can make an impact on and off the stat sheet. The problem, of course, is how that type of play has become the exception more and more in the last two years.

“We feel he’s a good kid, he’s been a good player for the Bruins,” Cassidy said. “He’s been inconsistent, so some of that falls on the player, obviously, it’s his job to get ready, but it also falls on the staff to get the best out of him. I know you’ve heard that before, but that’s where we’re going to try to dig to. Hopefully, we can find some common ground on that and at the end of the day, get him where he needs to be.”

For what it’s worth, DeBrusk sounds dedicated to finding a solution, too.

Thumbnail photo via Paul Rutherford/USA TODAY Sports Images
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