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Rewriting records: Bruce Cassidy’s start behind the bench has been historically good

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You know that the Bruins coach has done well, but you might not know just HOW well.

NHL: NOV 22 Bruins at Devils Photo by Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

When he was named Bruins head coach in early February of last year, Bruce Cassidy had some big shoes to fill. After all, the departed Claude Julien had won Boston’s first Stanley Cup in decades, led the team to another and reestablished the Bruins as an NHL power.

Cassidy was looking for redemption, having flamed out in his first go-round as a head coach. He inherited a team that was floundering and in danger of missing the playoffs again.

He led that Bruins team to a 18-8-1 finish and a playoff berth. While that first-round series against Ottawa may not have ended well, Cassidy certainly proved he belonged behind the bench.

What you may not know, however, is just how good his tenure has been: Bruce Cassidy is off to the second-best coaching start in the history of the Boston Bruins franchise.

Outperforming Ross, Cherry, Sullivan...and yes, Julien

The Bruins’ coaching history is littered with huge names: Milt Schmidt, Don Cherry, Harry Sinden, Pat Burns...the list goes on.

So it’s a pretty nice feather in his cap for Bruce Cassidy to surpass them all.

In the first 65 games in which points were up for grabs, Bruce Cassidy’s Bruins teams went 40-18-7 (18-8-1 last year, 22-10-6 this year).

That means that out of a possible 130 points, Cassidy’s teams took 87, for a points percentage of 0.669.

How does that measure up historically?

Franchise Leaders in Points Percentage (65 Games)

Coach Record after 65 games Points % Years
Coach Record after 65 games Points % Years
Tom Johnson 48-10-7 0.792 1970-1971
Bruce Cassidy 40-18-7 0.669 2017-2018
Cooney Weiland 39-19-8 0.662 1939-1941
Fred Creighton 38-18-9 0.654 1979-1980
Mike Milbury 38-22-5 0.623 1989-1990
Don Cherry 35-19-11 0.623 1974-1975
Mike Sullivan 30-15-13-7 0.615 2003-2004
Robbie Ftorek 33-20-5-7 0.600 2001-2002
Brian Sutter 35-23-7 0.592 1992-1993
Claude Julien 35-24-6 0.584 2007-2008
Bep Guidolin 34-24-7 0.577 1972-1973
Dit Clapper 30-22-13 0.562 1945-1946
Frank Patrick 32-25-8 0.554 1934-1936
Dave Lewis 32-28-5 0.531 2006-2007
Mike Keenan 28-24-6-7 0.531 2000-2001
Pat Burns 28-24-13 0.531 1997-1998
Rick Bowness 30-26-9 0.531 1991-1992
Butch Goring 31-27-7 0.531 1985-1986
Gerry Cheevers 29-25-11 0.531 1980-1981
Terry O'Reilly 31-28-6 0.523 1986-1987
Steve Kasper 29-28-8 0.508 1995-1996
Milt Schmidt 22-22-21 0.500 1954-1955
Art Ross 22-39-4 0.500 1924-1926
Lynn Patrick 21-27-17 0.454 1950-1951
Georges Boucher 21-30-14 0.431 1949-1950
Harry Sinden 17-38-10 0.338 1966-1967
Phil Watson 12-46-7 0.238 1961-1962
Cy Denney Didn't coach long enough to qualify, only 44 games 1928-1929

That’s right! #2 overall.

Cassidy’s start trails only the start of Tom Johnson, who coached the Bruins from 1970-1973. Johnson was coach for the Bruins’ 1972 Stanley Cup win, and had a guy named Bobby Orr on his teams.

I was talking to my father about this, and he distinctly remembers Johnson as being the “coach who always wore the bow-tie.” Maybe Bruce Cassidy could bring that back.

(As an aside, Johnson owns the record for best all-time winning percentage as Bruins coach as well, coming in at .738...NOT BAD.)

Some notes on the numbers

I don’t know why I chose 65 games. I think I was looking at the wrong column when I chose that number, but hey, it works. It sounds better than a random number like 67.

The numbers were calculated by going to the list of Bruins coaches, taking each’s first season and looking it up on Shrp Sports, which allows you to look up the standings on a given date.

I’d look up the team’s standings on the date after it played its 65th game, and calculate the points percentage. Not exactly mind-blowingly scientific, but it gets the point across.

I didn’t include second go-rounds; instead, I did the first instance of a coach’s tenure.

What does it all mean?

At the most basic level, it means that Cassidy has gotten off to a historically great start, and probably deserves a little more credit.

In fact, I put a poll on Chowder Twitter earlier today, just to see what fans thought of his performance thus far:

So yeah, people know he’s been good, but don’t seem to realize just HOW good.

His recent run with the team (the major point streak) is really what propelled him here; that point streak has coincided with a good Boston Celtics team and the New England Patriots’ run to the playoffs, so Cassidy hasn’t been getting much press.

However, let it be said: Cassidy has been great as the Bruins’ bench boss, and his record shows it.

He took a slumping Bruins team from borderline down-and-out to the playoffs last season, and has led a team filled with youngsters to solid playoff positioning this year.

In a “what have you done for me lately” city like Boston, Cassidy being second in franchise points percentage after 65 games isn’t going to generate a ton of headlines.

But it’s certainly a start.