The Boston Bruins, one of the NHL’s storied franchises, have been no strangers to change in recent times. As they head into the 2023-24 season, the team is witnessing a transformation that goes beyond the players on the ice. From the retirement of longtime stars to significant roster moves and now changes in their hockey operations staff, the Bruins are embracing a period of transition while building for the future.
The Bruins’ offseason began with the end of an era as two beloved players bid farewell to their NHL careers. Patrice Bergeron, the heart and soul of the team for nearly two decades, decided to hang up his skates after 19 remarkable seasons with the Bruins. Bergeron’s leadership, defensive prowess, and ability to come through in clutch moments made him an iconic figure in Boston sports history. His No. 37 jersey will hang in the rafters in Boston for the rest of time.
Shortly after Bergeron’s announcement, David Krejci, who had been a steady presence at center for the Bruins for 16 seasons, also announced his retirement. Krejci’s slick playmaking and leadership, especially during the team’s 2011 Stanley Cup run, will be remembered fondly by Bruins fans. Likely underappreciated for much of his career, memories of Krejci should be discussed for decades to come; especially when his No. 46 is also raised to the rafters.
Trades and More Departures
In addition to the retirements of Bergeron and Krejci, the Bruins made several significant moves during the offseason. Taylor Hall and Nick Foligno were both traded to the Chicago Blackhawks in a salary-cutting effort. These moves would be a precursor to the Bruins moving on from some other notable names; the preference would have evidently been to keep every player on the historic 2022-23 roster, but that isn’t how things work in a salary cap world.
Connor Clifton, a defenseman known for his physicality and energy, departed as well, signing with the Buffalo Sabres. This move underscored the changing landscape of the Bruins’ defense corps. The bottom-pairing on the Bruins will see an interesting competition this preseason and Clifton’s role will be tougher to fill than some might think.
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Even the acquisitions made at the 2023 Trade Deadline did not remain in Boston. Tyler Bertuzzi, Dmitry Orlov, and Garnet Hathaway all signed with other teams this offseason, highlighting the team’s willingness to adapt and explore new avenues for success.
Hockey Operations Staff Changes
As the Bruins prepare for a season of change on the ice, they are also making significant alterations behind the scenes. General manager Don Sweeney recently announced a series of changes to the team’s hockey operations staff.
John McLean, previously a skills and skating consultant with the Bruins, was named assistant coach. McLean, prior to his role with the Bruins, held several notable positions. He co-founded Dynamic Skating in 2010, a program dedicated to improving skating skills. In 2022, he became the head coach of the Austin Prep Varsity Boys Ice Hockey team. Before that, he served as the head coach of the Malden Catholic School Boys Varsity Ice Hockey team. McLean also has a background as a player, having competed for four seasons in the NCAA with Boston College from 1983 to 1987. Additionally, he played in 45 AHL games for the Binghamton Whalers and Maine Mariners.
Dan Darrow is set to enter his first season with the Bruins as an assistant video coordinator. This comes following his tenure as an assistant coach for the U.S. Under-18 Men’s National Team. Prior to this, he contributed as a volunteer assistant coach at the USA Hockey’s National Team Development Program with the Under-18 Team. Darrow’s NHL experience also boasts a seven-season stint with the San Jose Sharks as a video coach. Before venturing into the NHL, he held the position of the inaugural director of hockey operations at the University of Massachusetts Lowell from 2011 to 2015.
Josh Pohlkamp-Hartt, entering his sixth season with the Bruins, has been working in the club’s hockey operations department as a data scientist for the past five seasons. He has a background in statistics and spent time at Apple as a statistician. Pohlkamp-Hartt completed his Ph.D. in applied statistics at Queen’s University in Kingston in 2016.
Campbell Weaver, in his fifth season with the Bruins, initially joined the organization as a data engineer in 2019. Before that, he worked at Facebook as a computer vision research engineer and at Bonbouton as an engineer. Weaver brings expertise in data and engineering to the team.
Derek MacKinnon is set to spend his first season with the Bruins as a pro scout after spending nine seasons with the Calgary Flames, where he held roles as the director of player personnel from 2017-23 and as a pro scout from 2014-17. He previously worked as a pro scout for the Arizona Coyotes from 2008-14 and as a video coach for the Dallas Stars from 2003-08.
Milan Jurcina, entering his first season with the Bruins as a European scout, brings both NHL playing experience and scouting knowledge. The 40-year-old Jurcina was an eighth-round pick by Boston in the 2001 NHL Entry Draft and played nine seasons in the NHL for various teams, including the New York Islanders, Columbus Blue Jackets, Washington Capitals, and the Bruins. Jurcina also spent four seasons with HC Sparta Praha in Czechia, retiring in 2023.
It’s an offseason of change for the Bruins and there should still be many moving parts expected over the course of the next year. The Bruins are committed to staying in the playoff hunt for the 2023-24 season and will almost certainly make a big push to add talent to be competitive in 2024-25 and beyond.