The Boston Bruins knew they had a trying off-season ahead following their Game 7 loss to the Carolina Hurricanes.
They’re still awaiting word on Patrice Bergeron’s decision. They found out they’d enter the start of the 2022-23 campaign without Brad Marchand (hip), Matt Grzelcyk (right shoulder), Mike Reilly (ankle) and Charlie McAvoy (left shoulder) following their respective surgeries. But now, their top priority involves searching for their next head coach.
On Monday, the Bruins announced that they’ve relieved Bruce Cassidy of his duties after six years at the helm.
“Today I informed Bruce Cassidy that I was making a head coaching change,” Sweeney said in a team-isued statement. “After 14 years working with Bruce, this was an extremely difficult decision. I want to thank and acknowledge Bruce for all his work and success with the Bruins organization. His head coaching record for the Bruins is impressive, and we are appreciative of Bruce both professionally and personally. After taking some time to fully digest everything, I felt that the direction of our team for both this season and beyond would benefit from a new voice. I want to wish Bruce, Julie, Shannon and Cole much success as a family and with their future opportunities.”
The Bruins tabbed Cassidy to right the ship after firing Claude Julien on the day of the Patriots’ Super Bowl LI parade. The former P-Bruins and Washington bench boss inherited a thin Boston roster and turned them into a playoff team in the final few months of the 2016-17 campaign.
Sweeney removed the interim tag from Cassidy following Boston’s first-round loss to the Ottawa Senators in April 2017. Cassidy guided the Bruins to the playoffs in his five following seasons, including their 2019 Stanley Cup Final appearance.
The Bruins are at a crossroads after failing to even make the Eastern Conference Finals in the three following seasons. Yet, the years of failed drafting and mixed results in the trade and free-agent market under Sweeney put the organization in this predicament.
This season, in particular, Cassidy got whatever he could out of Sweeney’s roster. But the Bruins struggled to generate quality scoring looks during their four road games at PNC Arena, ultimately leading to a public disconnect between Cassidy, Sweeney and team President Cam Neely during their year-end press conferences.
The difference in coaching philosophies eventually led to Sweeney’s decision to fire Cassidy.
“I think we have to look at making some changes as far as how we play,” Neely said. “I think Bruce is a fantastic coach. He’s brought a lot of success to this organization. I like him as a coach. So we’ll see where it goes. I do think we need to make some changes.”
For a team stuck in neutral, the Bruins couldn’t afford to shoot themselves in the foot with a head-scratching decision. Now, they’re left looking for suitors to either get the team over the hump or start a complete rebuild.
The top rumored names on the coaching market include Barry Trotz, John Tortorella, Peter DeBorer and Rick Tocchet. Whoever the Bruins hire will try to make the most out of a flawed roster with little center depth and an injury-plagued blue-line to start next season.
Tim Rosenthal serves as the Managing Editor of Bruins Daily. He started contributing videos to the site in 2010 before fully coming on board during the Bruins' Stanley Cup run in 2011. His bylines over the last decade have been featured on Boston.com, FoxSports.com, College Hockey News, Patch and Inside Hockey. You can follow Tim on Twitter @_TimRosenthal.
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