Chris Kelly, the Bruins’ newest assistant coach after spending two years in a player development role with the club, will not be the first former teammate to coach the team’s one-two of Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand.
Now ex-Bruins assistant Jay Pandolfo, who spent five years on the B’s staff before departing for Boston University earlier this summer, played 18 games with the Bruins during the 2013 season. But with all due respect to the pride of Burlington, Pandolfo was no Kelly. A Bruin for six years, Kelly won a Stanley Cup with Bergeron and Marchand in 2011, went to another in 2013, and skated with them as one of the team’s on- and off-ice leaders as an alternate captain.
But the 40-year-old Kelly doesn’t see the dynamic between the group changing all that much, as all three can certainly help one another, even with Kelly moving from an on-bench to behind-the-bench presence.
“I think there’s obviously that respect factor that we played together,” Kelly said. “We were fortunate enough to win together and we’ve continued to stay friends over the last 10 years. You know, going into a coaching role with with these guys still as players, I’m learning from them just as much as I hope I’m trying to teach them some things. They’re obviously elite, elite players in the league. And in any way I can help them, I’m there as well as the rest of the group.”
And it’s worth mentioning that Bergeron and Marchand are not the only ex-teammates Kelly is now coaching. Curtis Lazar was a teammate of Kelly’s on the 2016-17 Senators, and same for Chris Wagner on the 2017-18 Anaheim Ducks.
Nor is Kelly the first younger player-turned-coach to be behind the bench and coach players he used to call teammates.
Steve Ott moved into an assistant coaching role with the Blues with just one year of separation from his time as a player with the Blues. Ott was behind the bench as an assistant for the St. Louis Blues when they beat the Bruins in the 2019 Stanley Cup Final, and that 2019 Blues team had countless ex-teammates of Ott’s still playing for St. Louis. Most recently, Alex Burrows served as an assistant coach on a Canadiens team that ran to the 2021 Stanley Cup Final.
Kelly’s also familiar with some of the Bruins’ younger talents from his run in his previous player development coordinator role, and is hoping that this more hands-on approach will bring the best out of everyone involved.
“I’ve formed pretty good relationships with the younger players and other players in that locker room just being around the last two years,” Kelly noted. “I don’t see it being much of an issue. I’m just there to help the guys day in and day out.”
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.