Will Bruins' age hurt them if/when NHL returns?

Scott McLaughlin
April 20, 2020 - 5:40 pm

The Bruins are one of the oldest teams in the NHL, and that may be relevant if and when the NHL returns to action.

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Generally older players take a little longer to get back up to speed after a layoff, and they may also be more prone to injury if they start playing full-tilt before they're completely ready. Brad Marchand even said himself on a media video conference last week that he thought younger players and teams would have an advantage after this lengthy layoff.

Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy is striking a more optimistic tone, though. Speaking to the media via video Monday, Cassidy explained that while the Bruins are older, they also have some advantages of their own that other teams may not.

"I think our team plays a pretty structured game," Cassidy said. "We're not a loosy-goosy team that just relies on making plays all night to win, so I think that helps us in that regard. That structure can typically be your friend until you get your legs under you. It's your security blanket until you find your offensive game, so that's the good part about our team. But I just think it's an unknown at the end of the day, what team will come out the best, simply because no one's ever been through this.

"...We do have some older guys. It might take their engine a little bit longer, but I think they are true professionals and know how to keep themselves in shape, maybe even better than some of the younger guys who might feel like, 'Oh when we're ready to go I can ramp it up.' So I do believe some of the veteran guys know they need to stay with it because it's not a switch you can turn on and off. That I believe works to our advantage. Now getting your legs under you quicker, yeah probably a younger guy has less aches and pains the next day. I think it's the recovery of the older guys we've got to monitor as much as anything. Less so the conditioning, more the recovery."

As far as how long teams will need to actually get back up to game speed whenever play resumes, Cassidy offered his take on that as well.

"That would depend to me entirely on, have they been able to skate on their own at some point before we go?" Cassidy said. "So for example, if we're told we have to stay off the ice until June 30 and we start July 1 and no one's been on the ice, then I think you have to have a minimum of I'd say at least two weeks to get guys up and running. If they've been allowed to skate at our facility, whether it's in small groups, by themselves, large groups, whatever that's determined, then that number could go down a little bit.

"But I can't see anybody saying you've got to start in three or four days. If you've been able to participate in some workouts, unstructured or unsupervised like you're allowed to in early September before camp, a number of them, then maybe a week is enough if you're building in a few regular-season games. The next part of that is if it's no regular-season games and right into the playoffs, then I don't see how no matter what you can get started before two weeks and not risk the safety of the players."

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