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Cassidy Embracing First All-Star Experience

Boston's bench boss looking forward to soaking in a special weekend

by Eric Russo @erusso22 /

ST. LOUIS - Bruce Cassidy was raised in Ottawa, but his hockey heart has always been in Boston. As a blue liner growing up in the province of Ontario, the Bruins' bench boss has always had an affinity for the Black & Gold.

And as a defenseman all the way through his short stint in the NHL, Cassidy's attention always drifted toward Bobby Orr. But as the years went on, it was Ray Bourque who took over the crown as Boston's premiere blue liner.

So, when No. 77 took down four consecutive targets during the 1993 accuracy shooting competition at All-Star Weekend in Montreal it certainly caught Cassidy's eye.

"The pie plates," said Cassidy. "Big Bruins fan forever, and Ray was one of my [idols]. Obviously, Bobby Orr first, Ray Bourque second. That's one of my big memories, the pie plates."

This weekend, Cassidy gets to make his own memories as he lives out his own All-Star experience as the head coach of the Atlantic Division, an honor bestowed upon him given the Bruins' standing (29-10-12, 70 points) at the midway point of the season.

"It's an honor for me to represent the Bruins organization," said Cassidy, who has led the Bruins to a 146-62-34 record in his three-plus season as head coach of the Bruins. "It's a reflection of how the players have played up to this point. Looking forward to it.

"A little more lighthearted than the regular season, get to meet some good young talent, sort of network with a few coaches and have a good time."

Video: Bruce Cassidy goes 1-on-1 to chat All-Star gaem

Cassidy will also have a familiar face alongside to help guide him through his first All-Star Weekend. Bruins winger David Pastrnak, the league's leading goal scorer (37) at the break, is captain of the Atlantic Division, though as of Friday night's Media Day, he had yet to lobby his coach to play with any specific linemates.

"No 1-on-1 meetings yet," Cassidy said with a smile. "I suspect I'll have to sit down with my captain and see what he thinks once he gets the temperature of the room and go from there."

Nevertheless, there will be plenty of talent for Cassidy to pick from, with the likes of Jack Eichel, Mitch Marner, and Victor Hedman also donning Atlantic Division sweaters.

"That's the biggest part of it for me, to get to know a few of the players," said Cassidy. "I've got to watch them in action. I know it's not regular-season intensity - still you've got some high-end talent out there. Looking forward to that.

"All in all, should be a good weekend. Family's here, they'll get to meet some of the players they watch on TV. Will be a thrill for them as well."

Though over the first few hours of All-Star Weekend, Cassidy's daughter, Shannon, and son, Cole, had their attention focused away from hockey.

"They met Pasta's dog today - they want a dog, so that's the lead story around our house today," Cassidy said with a smile. "They're having a great time. That's part of it. You want to create some good memories for them and that's what we're doing."

Video: Bruce Cassidy talks to media about All-Star

Back for Seconds

Pastrnak, meanwhile, is now a veteran of All-Star Weekend, as he's back for his second straight, this time after being voted in by the fans as the Atlantic Division captain.

"I hope it won't be different. Last year was a lot of fun, getting to meet these guys, your opponents' personalities and hang out a little bit and have fun," said Pastrnak. "Really excited and a couple of them will be teammates for a couple days. It will be fun."

The 23-year-old Czech native is, however, getting used to having the 'C' on his sweater.

"It's pretty heavy," Pastrnak said with a chuckle. "I never had the 'C' before. It's pretty heavy, it's pulling me down the chair. It's fun."

Pastrnak did seem to be taking his captain's responsibilities seriously, though, as he held the Atlantic Division's game plan pretty close to the vest.

"I haven't even thought about it yet," Pastrnak said when asked who his linemates might be. "I don't want to give up anything to media. We're battling through a couple injuries in the Atlantic Divison. We want to be the champions.

"I think it's gonna be a game-time decision. Butchy grabbed me in the corner and said don't give out anything to media."

Video: Pastrnak Speaks To Media at the 2020 ASG on Media Day

Race to the Top 

In addition to leading the league in goals at the All-Star Break, Pastrnak also ranks fourth in the NHL in overall scoring with 70 points, behind only fellow All-Stars Connor McDavid (76), Leon Draisaitl (74), and Nathan MacKinnon (72).

Despite the close scoring race - and Auston Matthew and Alex Ovechkin close on his heels with 34 goals apiece - Pastrnak is not keeping tabs on his standing in the Rocket Richard (most goals) or Art Ross (leading scorer) contests.

"I'm not racing anyone. I'm just playing hockey," said Pastrnak. "I don't care what's gonna be the outcome for my goals and points at the end of the year. Just focusing - it's fun to score points, fun to score goals for me, that's what I'm getting paid for.

"That's my biggest strength, being an offensive player. That's what I'm trying to do. Not trying to focus on any scoring race."

From Up Above

Pastrnak will not be defending his Accuracy Shooting title, which he won by knocking down five targets in 11.136 seconds last year. Instead, the winger will participate in the inaugural Shooting Stars event on Friday night, which will have 10 players shooting at targets from elevated platforms roughly 30 feet above the ice surface.

"I usually go out there 30 feet high and shoot at targets every other day. I'm ready," Pastrnak said jokingly, when asked if he had practiced for the event. "I can't imagine…if I hit one target, I'm gonna be really happy, I'm not gonna lie to you guys. I hear there is a net over the fans, which made me really happy. Can't hurt anybody, so that's good."

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