“There’s an opportunity for a new set of eyes to come in and a new voice for our players to hear, so I hope their ears are perked up."
Those are the words of Bruins General Manager Don Sweeney regarding new Bruins coach Bruce “Butch” Cassidy today. Is this an entirely accurate statement?
Not at all.
"That’s part of the process — seeing how players will respond to a different voice."
Bruce Cassidy won’t be a new voice for a significant percentage of the room, as a matter of fact. He’s been the assistant coach for only a few months in Boston, but prior to that he was the bench boss in Providence for four seasons; prior to that, he was the assistant to coach Rob Murray. He’s been with the Bruins system since 2008, has helped run development and training camps, and thus has coached a significant chunk of Boston’s players already — specifically the younger players.
So Sweeney wants to focus on the organization’s young players — hey, you didn’t trade David Pastrnak yet, gold star for you! — and give them a new voice to respond to...even though...that voice...isn’t a new voice at all.
Okay, sure. This organization is definitely going in the right direction.
That’s not to say that Cassidy doesn’t know what he’s doing. After a failed stint coaching in the NHL back in the early 2000’s — the Caps can thank him for being bad enough to draft Alexander Ovechkin, is the tl;dr of his time there — he worked as an assistant in Chicago for a few years before going to Kingston in the OHL, coaching there successfully for a season before being let go in his second season.
From there, he came to Providence, where he worked as Rob Murray’s assistant for three years. The first year was great; the 2008-2009 P-Bruins finished with 94 points. Backstopped by Tuukka Rask and with Brad Marchand second in playoff scoring, the P-Bruins made it through to the conference finals before being taken down by the Hershey Bears.
The hatred last night was spread all around the Dunkin' Donuts Center. In the first period, Sharks assistant coaches David Cunniff and Bryan Marchment, and Bruins assistant Bruce Cassidy, were hollering at each other.
Throughout the game, Providence forward Brad Marchand was instigating and taunting. And in the third period, Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask went after Sharks winger Frazer McLaren and belted him a couple of times with his blocker.
"I hate that team," Cunniff said after it was over.
Murray’s next two seasons as head coach went less than ideally, and after two seasons of missing the playoffs, Cassidy took over.
His first season, they missed the playoffs again. His second, they won the AHL’s equivalent of the President’s Trophy -- the Kilpatrick Trophy — with the best regular season record.
Among that team’s standouts: Ryan Spooner, Torey Krug, Kevan Miller.
Cassidy’s seen these kids before.
The P-Bruins have made the playoffs every season he’s been head coach except the first one; along the way, he’s taught players to balance their game, to add defense to scoring and build confidence. Cassidy hit his stride as P-Bruins head coach. He treated young media members the way he treated his players — with infinite patience even when mistakes were made and stupid questions were asked.
So no, he’s not a new voice for many of the players on this team. And no, Don Sweeney’s vision for this team doesn’t seem like a realistic one. But just maybe Cassidy can use the rest of this season to coach the young players on this team the way he’s done in the past — with a patience that many of them could probably use right now.