Cassidy has interest from numerous NHL teams after firing by Bruins

Cassidy has interest from numerous NHL teams after firing by Bruins

Bruce Cassidy said he has seen his phone light up less than 72 hours after he was fired as coach by the Boston Bruins.

Cassidy said that “a number of teams” in the NHL have been in contact with him since he was told Monday that the Bruins were opting out of the final year of his contract.

Which works out well, because Cassidy said he wants to return to coaching in the NHL as soon as possible.

“At the end of the day, did I still want to be [in Boston]? Absolutely,” Cassidy said Thursday. “Do I want to coach in this league? Yes, as soon as possible. Because it’s what I do. I coach and I love to do it.”

Cassidy coached the Bruins for the past six seasons and was promoted from assistant when Claude Julien was fired on Feb. 7, 2017. Cassidy, who had gone 12 years between NHL head coaching jobs (Washington Capitals 2002-04), was 245-108-46 with Boston and won the Jack Adams Award in 2019-20 voted as the NHL’s best coach. The Bruins qualified for the Stanley Cup Playoffs in each of his six seasons, including advancing to Game 7 of the 2019 Stanley Cup Final, when they lost to the St. Louis Blues.

The 57-year-old is 292-155-53 with nine ties in 509 games in eight NHL seasons with the Bruins and Capitals.

“Another opportunity hopefully will arise because of the work we’ve done here,” Cassidy said. “Great memories. Part of the business — learn from it and be better next time.”

That next time could come quickly.

“In respect to the teams, I’m not going to go through them, but I have talked to a number of teams,” Cassidy said. “I want to get back to work. Hopefully it’s a really good fit, the best fit possible.”

There are currently six coaching vacancies in the NHL, with the Bruins, Dallas Stars, Detroit Red Wings, Philadelphia Flyers, Vegas Golden Knights and Winnipeg Jets all in the market for a coach. The Chicago Blackhawks and Florida Panthers could be too, with each having used an interim coach this season (Derek King, Blackhawks; Andrew Brunette, Panthers). Of those openings, Vegas is the most intriguing, but if the Panthers choose not to retain Brunette, that job becomes the best available.

The decision by the Bruins came as a surprise to Cassidy. General manager Don Sweeney went to Cassidy’s house on Monday and let him know the news, something that Sweeney admitted earlier this week that Cassidy did not take well.

That was partially because Cassidy had been under the impression since the team’s exit meetings, after the Bruins (51-26-5) lost in seven games to the Carolina Hurricanes in the Eastern Conference First Round, that his job was “status quo” for 2022-23.

“I wanted to come back and coach the Bruins,” Cassidy said. “It’s been a privilege and an honor. Fourteen years here in different capacities in the organization. The Bruins basically tattooed to me. … Raw deal? I don’t know about that. I felt I did my job.”

However, the Bruins opted to go in a different direction.

“I felt that both the message and how it was being delivered and, more importantly maybe, how it was being received” was where Cassidy fell short, Sweeney said Tuesday. “I think the players felt they were very well prepared, but at times, young and old, they struggled. And sometimes that’s the voice that’s in their head.

“Ultimately I had to make a decision that takes us in a different path.”

Cassidy said he was open to the criticisms leveled by the organization as they opted to make a change. He has been open about how much he learned between his first opportunity as a head coach with the Capitals, and as he worked his way back to the position through the Ontario Hockey League and American Hockey League. He had worked for the Bruins organization for 14 years.

“I believe in myself when it comes to coaching young guys,” Cassidy said. “And in my next challenge, I’ll make sure that I’m mindful of the messaging. Because I respect Donnie when he talks about what you need to do better. He’s been in the game a long time.

“So that’s something I’ll have to take with me to my next job. But still drive home the accountability because I don’t think you have much of a team if players aren’t held accountable.”

Cassidy detailed a list of ways in which he could potentially improve as a coach, from being current on the shifts of the game, and whether he might need to convert to a more open style of play, to connecting with players on a more consistent basis , something he tried to do without crowding his players, while still making sure to know them on a personal level.

Asked if his next time might resemble the Bruins, Cassidy said, “I hope so.”

Though, he acknowledged, he doesn’t get to pick the players. And he doesn’t get to bring center and captain Patrice Bergeron with him.

Ultimately, Cassidy said, his experience with the Bruins was transformative, and will clearly inform his next opportunity.

“I learned that I could be a good coach in the National Hockey League,” he said.


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