BRIGHTON, Mass – While Bruce Cassidy clearly and deservedly got the necessary vote of confidence from Bruins management this spring when he was signed to a multi-year deal as the permanent head coach of the B’s, there is still a bit of unknown to be broached with the team in the coming months. Cassidy took over midseason after Claude Julien was relieved of his duties, and helped steer the Black and Gold into a playoff berth after it appeared that they were going to fall short for a third straight season before the coaching move was made.
So this season will be Cassidy’s first full season running the Bruins bench, his first time putting the entire organization through NHL training camp and his first time pushing Boston toward the ultimate goal from the very first moments of the regular season. Asked whether that was a taller task than parachuting in midseason as he did last year, Cassidy reserved the right to have an opinion on it until he’s gone through it at least one time in Boston.
Of course Cassidy has coached full seasons in the NHL prior to his time with the Bruins, but a lot has changed in the last 13 years since his previous stint as bench boss for the Washington Capitals.
“We were up and running in a hurry. We had the luxury of a couple practices to sort of start the process of how we were trying to change. But, there wasn’t a lot of time to overthink it, and off we went. The urgency level was there for the players. They knew that. They wanted to get in. So, that was an advantage, I think,” said Cassidy, taking some time to talk with reporters at Bruins development camp. “Going into the year, in October, it’s important to get your message across that these points. You’ve got that Thanksgiving measuring stick, so that will be the challenge there. Each challenge has its own [challenges]. I don’t know if there’s a greater one or not.
“Ask me again maybe once I go through this part and I can have a better answer for you. But that to me is the challenge is getting up and running early. It’s too hard to make up ground in this league. That’ll be our sole focus is to pick up where we left off in terms of our style of play and getting better and making sure we get our points.”
Clearly it might be difficult to match the strong 18-8-1 pace that the Bruins played at in the 20 games under Cassidy once he replaced Julien in early February, and getting consistent urgency out of this group of Boston players had been a challenge in recent season’s past. That will all be part of the challenge for Cassidy with a mostly returning group from last season that will also be sprinkled with more of the youthful prospects that Boston has pushing through the pro ranks as Brandon Carlo and Charlie McAvoy did last season.