Hours before the New England Patriots’ Super Bowl parade, the Boston Bruins announced that they had fired their Stanley Cup champion coach and Bill Dauterive lookalike Claude Julien. Despite baffling roster decisions by GM Don Sweeney, Julien has managed to keep the team competitive with a 26-23-6 record (58 points) through 55 games this season. The Bruins are one point out of the final wild card spot.
Taking the reins on an interim basis is Bruce Cassidy, who got his first head coaching experience in Washington under George McPhee. In 107 games with the Caps, Cassidy managed to completely and utterly destroy the team.
Here are a few samples.
“It was bad right from the start,” this former Capital said. “He pulled a piece of paper out of his pocket and started writing stuff on the blackboard. Everyone was just kind of looking at each other. We didn’t know what was going on. It looked like he was winging it. He had all summer to prepare for this day and it looked like he didn’t know what he was doing. Guys started to worry right away.”
Twice early last season Cassidy was late for the team bus on the road, sources said, causing the team to wait 10 to 15 minutes for him. He often arrived for games later than many players, which gave them the impression he was not as prepared and thorough as he should be. Players also said he seemed uncomfortable around them, leading some to call him “aloof.”
“I just don’t think he ever understood the level of professionalism it takes to coach in this league,” one player said. “All of the little things matter.”
He got into a screaming match with Jagr in Dallas during the fifth game of this season, and in November members of the training staff had to separate Cassidy and defenseman Brendan Witt after a loss at home.
The frustration of losing and the lingering issues between the players and coach came to a head last Thursday in New Jersey, when Cassidy ripped the team after a 3-0 loss and made references to players not using pregnant wives and sick children as an excuse for poor play.
Many of the players have young children or wives about to give birth, while Kolzig has an autistic child and Witt’s wife battled a life-threatening illness all of last season. Those remarks angered many players and, coupled with two more ugly defeats, marked the end of Cassidy’s tenure.
Good luck with your new interim coach, Boston! Here’s the Bruins’ full release:
BOSTON, MA – Boston Bruins General Manager Don Sweeney announced today, February 7, that the team has relieved Claude Julien of his coaching duties. Julien has led the team to a 26-23-6 record (58 points) through 55 games this season. Assistant Coach Bruce Cassidy will assume interim head coaching duties.
Julien was in his 10th season with the Bruins in 2016-17, having been named the 27th head coach in team history on June 21, 2007. He was the longest tenured active head coach in the NHL. Julien is Boston’s all-time coaching wins leader with 419 career victories, compiling a 419-246-94 record and .614 winning percentage in 759 games with the club. The Bruins advanced to the playoffs in seven of his nine years behind the Boston bench, and he owns the club career coaching record with 57 postseason wins. He led the Bruins to a Stanley Cup Championship in 2011, a return to the Stanley Cup Final in 2013 and a Presidents’ Trophy in 2014. Julien also won the Jack Adams Trophy as the league’s top coach following the 2008-09 season.
Julien has coached at the international level, most recently winning the 2016 World Cup of Hockey as an assistant coach for Team Canada. Julien also earned a Gold medal as an assistant coach for Team Canada in the 2014 Olympic Games in Sochi. He won a Bronze medal as head coach of Team Canada at the 2000 World Junior Championships and a Silver medal as an assistant coach for Team Canada in the 2006 World Junior Championships.
Prior to his coaching career, Julien had a 12-year professional playing career as a defenseman at the IHL, CHL, AHL and NHL levels. He played 14 career NHL games with one assist and 25 penalty minutes over two seasons with the Quebec Nordiques in 1984-85 and 1985-86.
Cassidy is in his first season as an assistant coach with Boston in 2016-17. He completed his fifth season as head coach of the Providence Bruins in 2015-16, having spent the three previous seasons (2008-11) with the club as an assistant. The 51-year-old native of Ottawa, Ontario compiled a 207-128-45 overall record in 380 games at the helm, including winning seasons in all five years and postseason berths in each of his final four seasons in Providence. In 2015-16, Cassidy helped lead the P-Bruins to a 41-22-13 record. Current Bruins players in the organization with NHL experience who have played under Cassidy during his tenure as Providence head coach include: Noel Acciari, Tommy Cross, Brian Ferlin, Torey Krug, Colin Miller, Kevan Miller, Joe Morrow, David Pastrnak, Tyler Randell, Ryan Spooner, Malcolm Subban and Frank Vatrano.
This will be Cassidy’s second career stint as an NHL head coach, having previously served as head coach of the Washington Capitals from 2002-04, where he helped lead the Caps to a 39-29-8-6 record and a postseason berth in his first season with the team. Following his exit from Washington, he served as an assistant coach with the Chicago Blackhawks for the 2005-06 season.
Cassidy also enjoyed a successful playing career, seeing action in the OHL, AHL, IHL and NHL, as well as overseas in Italy and Germany. The left-handed defenseman was originally drafted in the first round (18 overall) of the 1983 NHL Entry Draft by the Chicago Blackhawks. Over the course of five seasons (1985-90) at the NHL level, Cassidy recorded four goals and 13 assists for 17 points with 10 penalty minutes in 36 games.
— DC Sports Sufferer (@RFCapsMoustache) February 7, 2017
Headline image: Mitchell Layton
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