Reflecting On Bruce Cassidy’s Bruins Career So Far
It’s no secret that the Bruins have had a lot of success these past few seasons. A lot of this is due to the team’s incredible chemistry on and off the ice. That’s a credit to the young and veteran talent under coach Bruce Cassidy. In honor of his birthday yesterday, I decided to take a look back at his Bruins career so far.
Cassidy’s Bruins Career
Cassidy took over as the interim head coach following Claude Julien’s firing on February 7th, 2017. He led a team that was staring down a third straight season in which they missed the playoffs on an amazing 18-8-1, which saw them qualify for the playoffs. Unfortunately, they lost in the first round to the Senators. I know, it’s hard to believe they were good just a few seasons ago, but they were. Despite the early playoff exit, he did more than enough to show fans and management that he deserved the job. This led to him officially being named the 28th head coach of the Bruins on April 26th, 2017. He built upon his success in 2017-18. Cassidy led the Bruins to a 50-20-12 record and the second round of the playoffs, losing to the Lightning.
Then, much to the delight (and eventual heartbreak) of Bruins fans, the team had even more success in 2018-19. Even though they had a slightly worse regular-season record (49-24-9), they made it all the way to the Stanley Cup Final. After that, well, I don’t think I need to tell you what happened. This continuous success made it a no-brainer for Don Sweeney to give him a multi-year contract extension on September 11th, 2019. The Bruins only got better this season, as at the time of the pause this season, the Bruins were in first place in the NHL with a 44-14-12 record and they’re the only team with 100 points. Should the season return (which it looks like it will eventually), the Bruins are primed to make another deep run, hopefully with better results this time. Much of this success is because of Cassidy and his coaching style.
His Best Qualities
One of Cassidy’s best (and sometimes worst) qualities is his ability and willingness to juggle his lines mid-game when something isn’t working. While it occasionally makes things worse, more often than not he succeeds in getting the attention of the team or the individual player(s) that aren’t playing well. He’s also not afraid to bench guys (especially young guys) for not pulling their weight. He also knows which buttons to push (and when) to get them to turn it around. With occasional criticism for his handling of some of them, he’s largely been very good at dealing with young players. This was a big change as it was something that Julien got tons of criticism about. His handling of young players and ability to get the best out of them is a huge reason they’ve fit so seamlessly in the lineup. It’s also a huge part of why the Bruins’ retool was as smooth and quick as it was.
Perhaps most importantly though, Cassidy has earned the respect of every single player in the room. He’s a coach they want to play for every night. If the guys don’t like a coach or have respect for him, it’s not going to translate on the ice. Thankfully, that isn’t the case with Cassidy and the Bruins. It is often said that he’s a great communicator in all situations and he doesn’t hold any grudges against players (most notably young player). So they can take comfort in the fact that even if they get taken out of the lineup, there’s always going to be a chance for them to earn their way back in. Also, his offensive-minded yet defensively-sound systems and style of play are ones the players love. They instantly bought in, which led to the remarkable on-ice success we’ve enjoyed over the past few years.
In short, Cassidy’s tenure in Boston has been nothing short of incredible so far. It’s not just due to the talent he has to work with. You don’t become the second-fastest coach in Bruins history to reach 100 wins due to luck. Nor do you hold the fourth-best winning percentage in Bruins history (0.670 through the 2018-19 season) due to luck. It’s safe to say that we’ll be seeing Cassidy at the helm of the Bruins for a long time. Not to mention that we’ll continue to witness a lot of success over the coming seasons. If all goes well, it’s likely we’ll be seeing duck boats and a certain trophy parading down Causeway Street too.
-Lydia Murray (@lydia_murray12)