The Boston Bruins have canned Bruce Cassidy, which comes as a major shock to the fanbase as a whole. Cassidy took over midway through the 2016-17 season when Claude Julien was fired for a losing record of 26-23-6, Cassidy turned that team into 18-8-1 in his 27 games that season. Eventually, the Bruins would fall to the Senators in game 6 of the first round in the Stanley Cup playoffs, but there was hope. Bruce Cassidy would follow up this season by coaching the Bruins to a record of 50-20-12, they would beat the Toronto Maple Leafs in game 7 in the first round and then fall to the Tampa Bay Lightning in game 5 of the second round.
This is where we need to look at the teams Cassidy was coaching, Don Sweeney built some notoriously terrible teams since taking over for Peter Chiarelli in 2015. Sweeney was also given the gift of a lifetime in the 2015 NHL entry draft, but managed to mess that up. 13th, 14th, and then 15th overall, Sweeney and the Bruins select.. Jakub Zboril, Jake DeBrusk, and Zach Senyshyn.. The following three picks? Matthew Barzal, Kyle Connor, Thomas Chabot.. Looking back on it, the Bruins never knew the kinds of players that Zboril, DeBrusk, and Senyshyn would become, the same can be said for Barzal, Connor, and Chabot, even thought Barzal and Connor were highly touted heading into the 2015 NHL entry draft.
Even with these teams, Bruce Cassidy still managed to coach the Bruins to the Stanley Cup Finals in the 2018-19 postseason. In the 2018-19 regular season, Cassidy and the Bruins posted a 49-24-9 record, being somewhat similar to the previous season. The Bruins eventually fell to the St Louis Blues in game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals, the future was uncertain for the roster heading into the 2019-2020 season.
The start of three COVID-19 affected seasons cut the 2019-2020 season short to just 70 games, Cassidy and the Bruins posted a 44-14-12 record. Bruce Cassidy was also awarded the Jack Adams Award for the first time in his career in this season. The COVID-19 pandemic cut the season short and forced the postseason into a bubble, this ultimately became the hardest Stanley Cup to win. The Bruins triumphed over the Carolina Hurricanes in 5 games in round 1, but fell in 5 games to the Tampa Bay Lightning in round 2. The Bruins seemed to keep pushing forward and building upwards regardless of how many holes the team had. The second COVID-19 affected season made the season only 56 games long, a strong finish of 33-16-7 in a season that felt like all your players were out at some point or another. Cassidy would against make the most of this team, emerging victorious over the Washington Capitals in 5 games in round 1 but falling short to the New York Islanders in 6 games in round 2. The third and final COVID-19 affected season would see the Bruins coached by Cassidy in a full 82 game season recording 51-26-5, Cassidy's best record since taking over in 2016-17. The Bruins fell short to the Carolina Hurricanes in 7 games in round 1, but it only seemed like Cassidy could push this team upwards from here. 399 total games coaching the Boston Bruins, 245 wins, 108 regulation losses, 46 overtime losses, a Stanley Cup Final, three second round appearances, and three first round appearances. Cassidy never missed the playoffs with this group, this group didn't quit on him either. The firing of Bruce Cassidy was a major mistake that might just haunt the Bruins for years to come.
With the situation developing, we can recall at the season end press conferences that Sweeney said Cassidy would be back, and it was reported that Sweeney personally told Cassidy he'd be back. Not long later, Cassidy gets shown the door, and on June 9th, 2022, Fluto Shinzawa from The Athletic reported that Sweeney went to Cassidy's house on Monday, June 6th, 2022, to let Cassidy know that the he'd be relieved of his coaching duties.
Let's look at this closely, Cassidy had been personally told by Sweeney that he'd be back, so why did Cassidy get let go? The answer may lie in current president and alternate governor of the Bruins, Cam Neely. Was Cassidy railroaded by Cam Neely? The answer is simply, yes, he absolutely got railroaded by Cam Neely. It seems that Sweeney fought to keep Cassidy as the Bruins head coach even after Neely's end of season comments, but ultimately Neely had the final say. Seems like the same thing happened with Chiarelli and Neely regarding Claude Julien. What it looks like is Neely told Sweeney if he wants to keep his job, fire Cassidy. It seemed as if Cassidy's tenure for the 2022-23 season was over well before it started.
The Bruins need to make a massive change which starts with their front office, Cam Neely must go now. The goaltending is unproven, the defense lacks depth, and our offense runs solely off one line. The unfortunate catalyst is David Pastrnak is now reportedly unhappy with Bruins management after Cassidy was let go. Bergeron's future is uncertain as he contemplates retirement, Krejci is comfortable finishing his career at home where it all started, Erik Haula, Tomas Nosek, Charlie Coyle, and Nick Foligno are not guys you'd be confident taking over your 1C spot. I'm not here to give trade proposals and speculate on what could happen, that's for a later blog. With Pastrnak likely wanting out now, Bergeron looking at possibly retiring, the Bruins should definitely be looking at building quickly. Cassidy's firing was a major mistake because of the domino effect it currently has, we'll see how this plays out. We'll definitely watch the rest of this unfold in the coming months.