Don Sweeney recently spoke to the Boston Globe’s Fluto Shinzawa and certainly didn’t put any ease into fans minds about the state of the team.
“I think we’re shy of where I thought we would be,” Sweeney said.
“I’m not avoiding the question,” said general manager Don Sweeney. “I think it’s an obvious one. You have to look at every different thing.”
Eyes across the NHL are on Claude Julien as the Bruins bench boss. Will he stay through the year and right the ship? Will he be fired if things don’t improve? Whether or not he is given the pink slip is the right move is another thing entirely, but let’s take that chance and assume things don’t go well and he’s gone. Who becomes the new head coach of the Boston Bruins? There are a good amount of options both inside and outside of the organization who could step up in Julien’s wake.
Ahh yes, the most coveted head coaching free agent this season, the guy who everyone expects to be the first coach of the Vegas Golden Knights. Maybe Gallant sees a team that might not be great right now, but has an established presence in the city with its fans versus making a team that he might be able to have a hand in shaping directly from the start, but with so much uncertainty about a city in Las Vegas. His biggest issue (which stems from his departure in Florida) is making sure he’s on the same page as Neely, Sweeney and Co.
The Bruins assistant coach with the most recent head coaching experience, Sacco once turned a middling power play into a force to be reckoned with. Can he do that to an entire team? That remains to be seen, especially when you look at his on-again, off-again head coaching record with 4 seasons in Colorado. Could he do the job? Sure. Could he do it in the timeframe fans and ownership wants? That I wouldn’t be so sure about.
The Bruins assistant coach with the most head coaching experience overall, Cassidy was called up to the big club because he knows how to coach young guys and that’s what the B’s want at this point. They want someone who isn’t afraid to keep Colin Miller in the lineup when things get shaky or rely on call-ups as true stopgaps and not as temporary replacements. Look at how well he did with the P-Bruins, a playoff team every year the last three seasons. He knows the system from top to bottom, I think if Cassidy becomes head coach, it’s a win-win for fans and ownership.
No, not the fictional TV psychologist, the recently departed boss hog of the Calgary Flames. He led a young team from the basement of the West into the playoffs. You say, oh, they had Gaudreau and Monahan and actual defense? Welcome Bergeron, Marchand, Pastrnak and young skilled defenders on the way. The biggest problem he’d have in Boston would be a lack of emotion. Back in 2014, his Flames and the Canucks started the game with a full on line brawl because Hartley started his fourth line. He stood quietly on the bench while then-Vancouver coach John Tortorella wanted to rip Hartley’s head off. Torts went so far as to try and assail him in the tunnel at the beginning of the first intermission while the Flames HC retreated to the locker room. The lack of a response would drive Bruins fans nuts.
Fine, you really want someone who leads young kids? How about in your own backyard with one of the youngest teams in college hockey? Quinn has recruited hard and made the Terriers from basement dwellers in his first season to perennial national championship contenders every season since. He also happens to have AHL coaching experience with the Lake Erie Monsters, so it’s not like he’s completely unaware of how a league like the NHL works. You can also look at the last NCAA coach who made the jump to the NHL, Dave Hakstol in Philadelphia. He turned a squad that hasn’t made the playoffs for the second time in three seasons into a playoff team right away. While there isn’t a high correlation between NCAA to NHL coaches and success (because Hakstol is only the third), maybe Quinn could keep the trend going.
In the end, it’s still very unknown whether Claude Julien will be gone, but if he is, hopefully Don Sweeney has a good plan.