By: Lauren Spencer | Follow Me on Twitter: @laurenspenc
Last summer, when the Bruins announced that the team would be parting ways with Head Coach Bruce Cassidy, it was met with mixed reactions. Many felt that he had done his job as a coach, and upper management was placing blame on him as a scapegoat after their disappointing first-round exit. As the Bruins once again had a first-round exit this year, Bruce Cassidy and his Golden Knights are on the verge of making the Stanley Cup Final. Despite the differences in where both teams have reached, a coaching change was necessary for both parties.
In Cassidy’s six seasons with the Bruins, it is hard to say that he didn’t do a good job. After being hired initially as the interim Head Coach, Cassidy was soon given the official title. The team made the playoffs in every season he coached but was not able to bring home a championship. However, by the time Cassidy finished in Boston, it was clear that the vibes inside the locker room had shifted and that a change was needed. If Cassidy stayed, this season would likely have gone very differently.
It is no secret that Cassidy struggled to connect with the younger players on the team. Some felt that his style of coaching wasn’t effective, as they would feel punished for mistakes instead of encouraged to do better. Depth players like Trent Frederic and Connor Clifton blossomed this year under Jim Montgomery and his new leadership style. His unique coaching style rejuvenated the players and gave them more confidence in their abilities. This helped the Bruins develop both more offensive and defensive opportunities, leading to less reliance on the top lines.
Additionally, certain players probably would likely not have been on the team had Cassidy remained. Jake DeBrusk was clearly opposed to Cassidy, putting in a trade request during the 2021-2022 season. After Cassidy was fired, his request was rescinded. DeBrusk had a great season and played a large role in the success of the team throughout the year. If he were to have been gone, the Bruins would have missed his capabilities.
David Krejci also had a great return to the NHL after taking a year to play in Czechia. While it is not confirmed, it would not be unreasonable to believe that the coaching change played a role in his decision to return. Patrice Bergeron also signed a one-year deal during the summer after uncertainties about if he would be retiring or not. Without Bergeron, Krejci, and DeBrusk, there is no chance the Bruins have the record-breaking season that they did.
There’s no denying that Bruce Cassidy is a good coach. His record shows this, both with the Bruins and Golden Knights. Even with good coaches and players, changes can be necessary. The Bruins and Golden Knights both had successful seasons, and the changes benefitted everyone. Bruins fans should try to be happy for Cassidy as he looks to reach the Stanley Cup Final but also understand that he would not have made it this far if he were still in Boston.