Ranking the suitors for Bruce Cassidy’s next head coaching job
June 14th, 2022
RALEIGH, NORTH CAROLINA – MAY 16: Head coach Bruce Cassidy of the Boston Bruins speaks to the media after defeating the Carolina Hurricanes in Game Four to win the Eastern Conference Finals during the 2019 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at PNC Arena on May 16, 2019 in Raleigh, North Carolina. (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images)
Former Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy shouldn’t be unemployed much longer.
As he spoke to local reporters in a Bruins context for the last time, Cassidy acknowledged that he’s already heard from other teams about their head coach positions. Six other teams around the NHL are in the market for new head coaches, in addition to the Bruins.
When Cassidy lands on his feet with another team, it’ll only underline the curious nature of the Bruins’ decision to let him go. While keeping intact a front office that’s made costly, glaring personnel mistakes in both the short-term and long-term over the past several years.
And to be sure, Cassidy is likely to run into some of the same problems with the way he communicates to players and the media. But as we learned during his Bruins tenure, he can have those issues and still win a lot of games. It’ll be interesting for Bruins fans to see how far Cassidy can take his next team – and, if they hoist the Stanley Cup, wonder if that could’ve been them.
Cassidy should have multiple suitors among the league’s head coach openings. Here’s how we’d rank the teams as fits for his services.
1. Vegas Golden Knights
Dec 14, 2021; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; Boston Bruins right wing David Pastrnak (88) controls the puck in front of Vegas Golden Knights center Mattias Janmark (26) during the first period at the TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Brian Fluharty-USA TODAY Sports
This will likely be most people’s first pick. Ty Anderson and I both agreed that Vegas would be the most intriguing team to land Cassidy in the newest episode of the Sports Hub Underground.
Despite missing the playoffs in 2021-22, Vegas still seems like Cassidy’s best chance to win a Stanley Cup. The Western Conference is down in general, and the Knights’ roster remains extremely deep. They also boast good veteran leadership, which could help convey Cassidy’s message to the Jack Eichels of the world.
At the end of the day, Cassidy probably needs a team with a strong locker room and players who can handle the occasional tough love, or help their younger teammates stay confident and focused. On paper, Vegas is best equipped to accomplish that.
2. Dallas Stars
Oct 16, 2021; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; Dallas Stars defenseman Joel Hanley (44) and Boston Bruins center Brad Marchand (63) battle for position during the first period at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports
Dallas has arguably the most interesting roster for Cassidy’s style, due to their stable of smooth-skating, dynamic defensemen, led by Miro Heiskanen and John Klingberg. The latter is on track to become a free agent, but it would make little sense for the Stars not to lock up one of their biggest draft hits in recent franchise history. They also still have plenty of speed and skill in their top-six forwards. Cassidy could work some magic with this.
3. Philadelphia Flyers
Jan 23, 2021; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; Boston Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy reacts during the third period against the Philadelphia Flyers at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Paul Rutherford-USA TODAY Sports
Cassidy is on the “list” for the Flyers’ head coach opening, according to Frank Seravelli. Defensemen Ivan Provorov and Rasmus Ristolainen would give him a solid foundation to work with on the back end, and some of Philly’s forwards could stand to have more of their potential unlocked, or to produce more consistently. A full buy-in to Cassidy’s system could accomplish that.
4. Winnipeg Jets
Jan 31, 2020; Winnipeg, Manitoba, CAN; Boston Bruin forward Patrice Bergeron (37) jostles for position against Winnipeg Jets forward Nicolas Shore (21) during the first period at Bell MTS Place. Mandatory Credit: Terrence Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Cassidy would transition well to the Jets’ forward group. He knows how to work with two-way centers like Pierre-Luc Dubois. Blake Wheeler is also one of the league’s premier captains, so if Cassidy can connect with him, that could translate well to the rest of the team.
5. Detroit Red Wings
Feb 9, 2020; Detroit, Michigan, USA; Boston Bruins defenseman Brandon Carlo (25) during the game against the Detroit Red Wings at Little Caesars Arena. Mandatory Credit: Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports
Detroit is still building their roster back up, so it wouldn’t be the best landing spot for Cassidy if he wants the best chance to win. But it would be intriguing as all hell to see him work with future Norris candidate defenseman Moritz Seider – as long as they can communicate well together!
6. Chicago Blackhawks
Mar 11, 2018; Chicago, IL, USA; Boston Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy during the first period against the Chicago Blackhawks at the United Center. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports
Cassidy played all six of his NHL seasons in Chicago, so there’s familiarity. But the harsh reality for this Original Six franchise is that they’re still in the middle of a rebuild, and it may still take a while to overcome the absolute PR disaster of their recent sexual abuse scandal involving a former video coach. So it wouldn’t be surprising if Cassidy didn’t want to touch this job.
Scandals aside, Cassidy wants to win, anyway. He’s not likely to pull it off right away with the current Blackhawks roster. But he’d certainly get a lot out of a still-productive Patrick Kane.
Matt Dolloff is a writer and podcaster for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Have a news tip, question, or comment for Matt? Yell at him on Twitter @mattdolloff and follow him on Instagram @realmattdolloff. You can also email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.