By: Mark Allred | Follow Me On Twitter @BlackAndGold277
Per a source close to the National Hockey Leagues Pittsburgh Penguins organization, current American Hockey League Head Coach for the Providence Bruins, Jay Leach is is being heavily considered to join the Pens coaching staff. The Penguins didn’t renew contracts to three members of the coaching staff setting off a worldwide search for the next group to join the Pittsburgh staff.
The only member of the coaching staff that remained was former Bruins player and Boston Head Coach Mike Sullivan, a Marshfield, Massachusetts native. Former Pens assistants Jacque Martin, Mark Recchi, and Sergei Gonchar were with the Pittsburgh club during the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs in the Toronto bubble on expiring contracts. Once the Penguins were eliminated earlier this month, Pens General Manager Jim Rutherford Cleaned house stating below in an article seen HERE that changes were indeed necessary.
“We are in the process of conducting a review of our organization because we have underperformed in the playoffs the last few years,” Rutherford said. “We just thought we needed to change the dynamic of our coaching staff. We have very high standards here in Pittsburgh, and we want to continue competing for Stanley Cups. The message to our fans is that ‘We are not rebuilding, we’re re-tooling.'”https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js
I’m hearing Providence Head Coach Leach is currently mulling the idea of taking the job as his role within the Bruins organization is heavily weighing on him. Jay enjoys being a part of the B’s, but this might be a solid chance to get his feet wet in the best professional league in the world with advanced bench boss consideration either in Pittsburgh or elsewhere. Leach was also heavily considered for the New Jersey coaching Vacancy with the firing of John Hynes, who wasn’t unemployed for long snatching a job in Nashville.
There are interesting ties to why Leach is heavily favored for the Penguin’s assistant job as he and current Pittsburgh Head Coach Mike Sullivan both worked together for the NHL Pens top minor-pro affiliate the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins. After the Pens went in another direction with their AHL affiliate behind the bench, Leach joined the AHL Providence team in August of 2014. Starting as an assistant and then promoted to head coach with the promotion of former AHL Bruins Head Coach Bruce Cassidy when he left the Rhode Island franchise to assist then NHL Bruins Head Coach Claude Julien.https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js
In his time as Head Coach in Providence, Leach has done a fantastic job teaching Bruins prospects and middle-depth players ready for the rigors of emergency recalls and potentially steady future NHL work. In three seasons coaching the top minor-pro affiliate of the NHL’s Boston Bruins, Leach has compiled an impressive regular-season record of 121-71-14-8 in 214 games dating back to 2017-18 when he took over as head coach.
Leach has been one of those coaches who has done the right thing when it comes to passing knowledge down to the younger players as seen in the annual development camps which he’s been running for the past three years. His players would absolutely run through a wall for Jay as he’s a coach that gets results on a night by night basis regardless of wins and losses. He’s a defensive-minded coach that preaches accountability from each one of his players as he knows they’ll make mistakes but it’s how that player recovers and makes an impact in the game afterward.
"I always put my money on good people and there's no one better. I have not seen him slow down since he's been here."— Boston Bruins (@NHLBruins) January 22, 2019
📝 Providence Bruins head coach Jay Leach goes in-depth in discussing #NHLBruins prospects. Read More: https://t.co/40nu7uRbaM
If in fact, Leach packs up for better opportunities, he’ll leave a lasting impression on current Providence Bruins players and ones that have graduated to the NHL. Every year Jay was behind the bench for the AHL Bruins you could see constant improvements with the way they practiced during the week, weekend game-day preparation, and year-by-year AHL regular-season records. Before this Covid-19 Pandemic shut down the remainder of the 2019-20 regular-season and Calder Cup Playoffs, Jay and his club were having the best campaign in his tenure with a record of 38-18-3-3.
This past season the Rhode Island club really turned on the jets in the second half to be one of the hottest AHL teams coming down the stretch and were poised to make a run for the franchises second league championship. Providence finished the 2019-20 season at the top of the AHL’s Atlantic Division by one point over the second-place Hershey Bears (82 Points) and also led the Eastern Conference by the same margin.https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js
Here’s another interesting scenario that could happen with a move like this for Jay Leach and his possible desire to reach the top of the NHL coaching pinnacle. I’m hearing former Pittsburgh Assistant Coach Mark Recchi might be offered and player development role for the Penguins organization. If he decides not to accept the Pens offer, would he consider becoming the new Providence Bruins head coach and work with current AHL B’s assistants Trent Whitfield and Ryan Mougenel?
Obviously, he’d have NHL assistant coaching opportunities around the league presented to him, but I think it would be cool to see him work up to the NHL Bruins, a team he won a Stanley Cup with almost a decade ago. If the NHL Bruins do not want to entertain bringing back current assistant coaches in the near future, you’d have someone behind the bench that some core players are very familiar with and could be a catalyst for future success.