By: Joe Travia | Follow me on Twitter @NHLJoeTravia
One day after news broke of Bruce Cassidy being hired by the Vegas Golden Knights, it appears that the Bruins have identified their preliminary list of candidates to replace him as the team’s Head Coach. According to the Worcester Telegram & Gazette’s Joe McDonald, the Bruins currently have interviews with five candidates: Jim Montgomery, Jay Leach, Joe Sacco, Spencer Carbery, and David Quinn.
Montgomery, who turns 53 at the end of the month, has had an interesting coaching career. After a successful five-year college coaching career at the University of Denver, where he won a National Championship and the Spencer Penrose National Coach of the Year Award, Montgomery made the jump to the NHL with the Dallas Stars in 2018. Montgomery found some early success at the NHL level, leading the Stars to a 43-32-7 and a playoff berth in his first season. He was ultimately fired 31 games into his second season for what was deemed a ‘personal behavior issue’ and later checked himself into rehab for alcohol abuse. After getting his personal issues under control, Montgomery has served as an Assistant Coach to Craig Berube for the St. Louis Blues since the 2020-2021 season.
Leach, 42, is the likely favorite for the position. After a four-year college career at Providence College, Leach played professionally for twelve seasons, four of which were in the Bruins organization. Upon retirement, Leach began his coaching career with Adler Mannheim of the DEL, Germany’s top professional league, in 2014. After one year in Germany, Leach was hired by the Pittsburgh Penguins to serve as an Assistant Coach to Mike Sullivan for their AHL affiliate in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton. When Sullivan was promoted to the NHL club, Leach served as Interim Head Coach for three games before finishing the season as Associate Head Coach. He then joined the Bruins organization as an assistant in Providence for one season before being promoted to Head Coach for the 2019-2020 season. In two seasons with the P-Bruins, one of which was the COVID shortened year in 2020-2021; Leach coached the team to a 53-24-5 record in 87 games. This past season, he spent the year with the expansion Seattle Kraken as an Assistant Coach on Dave Hakstol’s staff. His familiarity with the Bruins organization and track record of success working with some of the young players in the system makes him the front-runner.
Sacco, 53, would be the most effortless transition. The Medford, MA native and Boston University product has served as an Assistant Coach in Boston under Bruce Cassidy since the 2014 season. A veteran of thirteen professional seasons as a player, Sacco also has previous NHL head coaching experience, coaching the Colorado Avalanche to a record of 130-134-30 in 294 games from 2009-to 2013. Sacco and Chris Kelly were both kept following Cassidy’s dismissal, so I would think Sacco will remain with the organization regardless of if he is promoted to Head Coach or not.
Carbery, 40, is the least known of this group, but his resume is impressive. After a four-year professional career, Carbery retired from playing in 2010, immediately joining the ECHL’s South Carolina Stingrays as an Assistant Coach. In 2011, Carberry was promoted to Head Coach of the Stingrays at 29. After a stop in the OHL as Head Coach of the Saginaw Spirit, Carbery joined the Bruins organization as an Assistant Coach in Providence for one season. He was then named Head Coach of the Hershey Bears of the AHL, where he won the Louis A. R. Pieri Memorial Award as AHL Coach of the Year in 2021. Carbery spent last season with the Toronto Maple Leafs, coaching their forwards and leading a power play that finished first in the league.
Quinn, 55, is another candidate with local ties that has considerable experience working with some players already in the organization. A Rhode Island native, Quinn played collegiately for Boston University before retiring early due to a blood clot disorder after only two professional seasons. Upon retirement, Quinn joined the coaching ranks, making stops at Northeastern and Nebraska-Omaha before winning a National Championship as an Assistant Coach at his alma mater Boston University in 2009. From there, Quinn joined the Colorado Avalanche organization as Head Coach of their AHL affiliate, the Lake Erie Monsters, and was later promoted to Assistant Coach in Colorado under the previously aforementioned Joe Sacco. Quinn then returned to Boston University as Head Coach, recruiting and coaching current Bruins Charlie McAvoy and Matt Grzelcyk. After five years at BU, Quinn returned to the NHL ranks as Head Coach of the New York Rangers. His tenure in New York was not one to remember, as Quinn was fired after only three seasons, with the Rangers and the only playoff appearance being in the COVID bubble qualifying round in 2019-2020. Since being let go by New York, Quinn has worked with USA Hockey and coached the team at the 2022 Winter Olympic Games.
This is a developing story, and more interviews are likely to be announced, but who do you want to see the Bruins hire among these candidates? Sound off in the comments/replies.