WILMINGTON, MA – Under first-year head coach Bruce “Butch” Cassidy, the AHL’s Providence Bruins ended the season with a 35-34-3-4 record good for 77 points and fourth place in the Atlantic Division, but not good enough to make the Calder Cup Playoffs – a berth the P-Bruins haven’t achieved since 2009.
“We can all predict what’s going to be down there,” said Cassidy after Day 3 of Development Camp 2012. “But I think it’s fair to say this year’s crop –- and I’m not being disrespectful to last year’s –- is, at least on paper, a higher end group of players.”
Many of last season’s players were present on the ice today in Wilmington and several others will join members of the 2011-12 group when the AHL reconvenes in September.
But Cassidy thinks the new B's, coupled with the returning P-Bruins, will breed a better club.
“I think at times we dressed 10 or 11 first-year guys in Providence – a lot of teaching,” said Cassidy. “We kind of changed our systems to be more in line with Boston’s, so I enjoyed that but it took away from some on-ice success to a certain extent.
“I think when you look at Ryan Spooner and Jared Knight - these are second round picks. [Torey] Krug, [Zach] Trotman and [Tommy] Cross all got a chance to play pro hockey.
“If they end up in Providence, they’ll have a bit of a leg up in that regard, so I think it will be a better group.
"But until they start playing, you know, it’s not fair to say.”
However, it is fair to say that winning breeds winning.
“You develop a lot better in a winning environment,” said Cassidy. “I mean, that’s what we’re trying to do, develop players for the Boston Bruins in a winning environment.
“Last year we won more than we lost, but not enough to make the playoffs and I think playoffs are important for young kids to feel that, you know, the atmosphere of that.
“So that’s ultimately our goal as a team, but again it can’t come at the expense of developing players,” he said.
And developing players is Cassidy’s job whether it be at Development Camp, training camp or the Calder Cup Playoffs.
“I mean I’m employed, I get paid by the Bruins, I’m here to get players up here to help the Bruins win a Stanley Cup,” said Cassidy. “We want to win at the same time down there.
“So, you know, you’re juggling some things, but that’s our goal and hopefully we do more winning this year than we did last year.”