Bruins assistant coach Joe Sacco did not get the job with the Seattle Kraken, but there will still be a change behind the B’s bench in 2021-22, with Jay Pandolfo set to join the Boston University coaching staff as an associate head coach.
Word of the 46-year-old Pandolfo’s departure from the Bruins was first reported by the New England Hockey Journal’s Jeff Cox and Kirk Luedeke.
Pandolfo, who ended his 15-year NHL career with an 18-game 2013 season with the Bruins, has been with the Bruins organization since 2014.
Pandolfo’s first post-playing career move with the Bruins saw him begin as a player development coach before transitioning to the role of Director of Player Development for one season and then moving to the team’s coaching staff in 2016-17. As a member of Bruce Cassidy’s stuff, Pandolfo has mostly worked with the team’s forwards, and recently added more power-play duties to his plate, working in tandem with Cassidy on that front and for a Boston power play that finished the 2021 season ranked as the 10th-best unit in the league, at 21.9 percent.
A Burlington, Mass. native, Pandolfo played at Boston University from ’92 through ’96, with career college totals of 79 goals and 169 points in 136 games. Pandolfo’s Terrier run most notably included an NCAA championship in 1995, as well as a 38-goal, 67-point season in 40 games as the team’s captain in 1995-96 on his way to honors as a Hobey Baker Award finalist.
And this move back to his alma mater will come with a reunion with Albie O’Connell, Pandolfo’s teammate in 1995-96 and the Terriers’ current head coach. O’Connell, who replaced David Quinn as the Terriers’ head coach following Quinn’s move to the NHL, has compiled a 29-31-12 record in his two seasons as Boston University’s head coach.
As for the Bruins, it’ll be interesting to see who gets the call with Pandolfo out of the picture.
The easiest and perhaps most natural call for the Bruins would be to promote P-Bruins head coach Jay Leach to the NHL staff. Leach has been a fantastic bench boss for Providence, with a 121-71-22 record in his three seasons behind the bench for the Black and Gold’s top minor-league affiliate. But there may be a bit of the Bruins wanting to continue to keep the 41-year-old Leach in the AHL as one of the best kept secrets on the coaching scene, if possible. Leach reportedly interviewed for the Arizona Coyotes’ coaching vacancy before the ‘Yotes hired Andre Tourigny.
The Bruins could also see if Chris Kelly would have an interest in following in Pandolfo’s Boston footsteps and moving out of his current player development coordinator role and into a coaching role with the Bruins. The 40-year-old Kelly served as an assistant coach on Marc Crawford’s staff during his 18-game run as Ottawa’s interim coach in 2019.
Ty Anderson is a writer and columnist for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Yell at him on Twitter: @_TyAnderson.