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Bruce Cassidy And Jay Pandolfo Conference Call Transcript On 5/25

by Staff Writer / Boston Bruins
CONFERENCE CALL WITH BOSTON BRUINS ASSISTANT COACHES

BRUCE CASSIDY AND JAY PANDOLFO
Wednesday, May 25, 2016

BOSTON BRUINS ASSISTANT COACHES BRUCE CASSIDY AND JAY PANDOLFO
On their excitement to join the coaching staff…
BC: I’m excited about it. Obviously, to be able to learn from a coach with Claude [Julien]’s pedigree, a Stanley Cup champion, I know it’s a big honor for me. It’s been great down in Providence with me for eight years. To be that much closer to him is only going to make me a better coach, so for me it’s a very exciting time.
 
JP: I’m really excited as well. To kind of get into coaching, I had a little bit of an opportunity a couple years ago, talking to Claude about it. Didn’t work out at the time, but kind of got into the player development stuff and now I’ve had a chance to get back into it. Really excited. For me, it’s a great situation to learn from – actually all three coaches are former NHL coaches I’ll be working with. Obviously Claude still is the head coach and the other two guys have head coaching experience, which is going to benefit me greatly, so I’m really excited about it.
 
On if he believes he taught the right style to some of the defensemen now playing in Boston…
BC: If we’re going back to [Johnny] Boychuck, he came from another organization, so I think with him it was more about getting him settled down and playing more of a Bruins style, which was playing inside the dots, not overreacting to rushes or to D-zone coverage, teaching him the layers process that Claude has installed. And then from there it was building his offensive game. He had the big shot when he came through. We built in some other parts, the puck-moving part, especially on the power play, and got ourselves a complete defenseman. I think he was at a good age, as well as Adam [McQuaid], they played in the American League anywhere from two to three years. Adam was a different animal, a little bit more defensive-minded guy, but with Adam it was building puck-moving into his game as well to round it out. But I think at the end of the day it was a lot of repetition on the ice, a lot of instruction, repetition, and then during games and video sessions it was reinforcing and allowing them to grow in those areas. I think those are where they made the biggest strides. When it came to Kevan Miller, a lot of similarities to Adam in that regard, and then we had some more natural puck-movers if we want to delve deeper, even Steven Kampfer, who is no longer there, Torey Krug – those were younger guys that had a little bit of that in their games. So we had to build the opposite end for them, a little more of the defending, boxing out. But it was always on-ice first, instruction, reinforcing, repetition, and then going forward from there. In-game is obviously a little tougher to do on the spot. I think that’s why practice is so important at the American League level and why there’s such an emphasis on it.
 
On if there is a certain style that he expects from his defensemen to signal things are working out…
BC: Well, I don’t want to get too far ahead of myself because the stamp of approval is always Claude’s first. Just meeting with him and having discussions, even previous years, I think what we’d like to grow in our game is the ability to move the puck out of the zone quicker and cleaner. That may involve a few more one-man breakouts. Players have the ability to beat the first forechecker with their feet, make a good outlet pass, then you don’t have to always use your partner, so we’re not quite as predictable. So that’s how I’d like us to look on the transition part, where we’re a little more fluid coming out of our zone. That generally is a mindset that the defensemen have to buy into, that they have the ability to do that. Everyone’s is a little bit different. Every player on the back end has the ability to move the puck. They might not all be labeled necessarily puck-movers throughout hockey, but they’re NHL players, they all have the ability to move the puck and we want to sort of grow their game there and at least reach their ceiling and hopefully beyond in that part of it. So how it would look, should have more clean attacks coming out of our zone if we execute and make the right decision.
 
On what he can bring from the player development side to coaching…
JP: I think it worked out kind of perfect where living in the Boston area and being able to go down to Providence on a daily basis and work with the players alongside Butch and Kevin Dean helped me a lot, kind of helped me learn a little bit too on how to approach guys and how to talk to them, what’s the best way to send a message. I think in that regard it helped a lot. And then also going off and seeing our prospects that are playing in college or the junior level, being able to talk to them, but also being able to help them a little bit with their game and try to improve in certain areas. I think that really helped me learn quite a bit about how to connect with these kids and I think it’s going to help going forward here.

On when Jay Pandolfo thought he would get into the coaching ranks…
JP: Well I thought about it towards the end of my career. I had different conversations with different people in the hockey community about it, not just at the NHL level. I talked to some prep schools when I was done playing and it was something that interested me. And I had conversations with … even going back to when Lou Lamoriello talked to me about it. You know he was asking me towards the end of my career, I kind of wanted to get into it and he mentioned that he thought it might be a good idea if it was something I enjoyed to think about maybe getting into coaching. So I think it started back then and then you know after I finished playing, being away from the game for a year kind of taking some time I didn’t want to stay out of it too much longer and I thought it was a good opportunity to get back in. Talking to Don Sweeney and Peter Chiarelli and getting into the development side of stuff and seeing where it goes from there.

On how his playing experience as an offensive defenseman has influenced his coaching style…
BC: Well I mean obviously I enjoyed that part of the game – it was my strength. I try to coach it into the players. But I won a couple championships as a player in junior hockey in Ottawa in the old IHL and our teams were strong defensively. I don’t think you win without that component to your game. Part of being good defensively is being able to recover pucks quickly and make an effective first pass out of your zone. I always believed that if you can get in and out of your zone, defend well in there, defend hard but move it clean, you’re going to be tough to play against because you have the puck a lot and you’re on the attack. So trying to build those two parts of it, even though I was an offensive guy, I still put a lot of value on getting the puck back. So how you get it back obviously will vary from team to team. I love Claude’s defensive system with the layers and it’s just going to be our job to make sure maybe we can make our decisions somewhat quicker on closing to get those pucks back. We’ve talked about it at both levels in Boston and Providence over the years so we’ll continue to grow that part of the game. And like I said before if we can get out cleaner when we do recover these pucks and make better decisions using our feet then I think it’ll only make us that much more difficult to play against. So that’s where my thought process comes from playing that position for a number of years.

On how much easier it will be to transition into this role knowing some of the players…
BC: For me I think it’s very important. To go into situations which I have in the past there’s good and bad in that. Obviously you know starting with a fresh slate nobody knows you, you don't know them, but coming into the situation where we want to hit the ground running and get back to where the Boston Bruins want to be, I think it’s an advantage to have worked with these guys in the past. They all know my style – not all of them – but there’s probably half the D corps that will have had some experience, maybe a little bit more than that, depends on how it shakes out when October comes. But I think it’s great, especially with knowing the head coach with Claude [Julien], you know I knew him before I came here a little bit, but working with him for eight years I think that’s a big asset coming in. Getting to know Joe Sacco and obviously knowing Goalie Bob [Essensa] and Jay [Pandolfo] working closely with him for the last two years and with Don Sweeney, I’ve been with him for seven years, so a lot of that will make it easier just to get right down to work and not go through all of the sort of getting to know process. So for me it’s huge, but Jay will have to speak for himself.

JP: Yeah I agree completely. I think it’s a huge benefit. I think working with especially some of these young guys who will be coming up in Providence and even getting to know the prospects that hopefully will be making the jump and whether it’s a year or two years, having those guys feel comfortable with coming into a situation. And also I’ve played with a lot of guys that are still on the Bruins, so I think being comfortable with those guys and those guys knowing me and being comfortable with them being able to bounce stuff off me, I think as an assistant coach, you know, a lot of times you’re a bit of a sounding board too for those guys. You know they can’t always go to the head coach for things so you know they like to sometimes talk to the assistant and get a feel for what everyone’s thinking. So it’s a good situation. And also I played for Claude so I’m very comfortable with him. Working with Butch the last couple years has really helped me a lot and we’re real comfortable together so it's a similar situation. And I’ve known Joe for a long time and also working with Goalie Bob as well down in Providence on a regular basis and having a really good relationship with Don Sweeney the last two couple years it’s a very similar situation. So for everyone I think it’ll allow us to get close as a group right from the hop and I think that matters a lot when you’re trying to build a winning team.

On what he thinks of the defensemen right now…
BC: Well you know the veteran guys obviously have been battle tested; they’ve been winners and they are hard to play against. Some of the younger guys – [Colin] Miller, [Joe] Morrow are still finding their way. I think the way the game is going they need to be integrated into the lineup if they can handle it and we’re going to find that out quickly enough. They do have some good puck-moving skills, some good foot speed, so if you can blend that with some of the more experienced defenders and sort through your pairs and good chemistry develops then they’re going to be a solid defense corps. But you know that’s the challenge in front of us. It’s not easy to play in the National Hockey League in that position. But you know we’re going to do our best to make sure that the pieces fit however they shake out. Like I said it’s a little bit early, we know certainly some of the players are going to be there, but some of them are to be determined. They have to earn their spot. But I do see a group that needs to transition the puck better and some of that will fall on the puck support of the forwards and their partner around them. But we have to build that confidence into their game where they can move the puck, make good decisions with it, and if they mess one up then they’re going to have the opportunity to get back out there and get it right. So that’s our goal and I believe that group can do it. But again I don’t want to get specific because some of them are still to be determined, but I believe as a corps that’s our goal and I think we can achieve it.

#05/25/16#
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