Bruce Cassidy spent 14 years with the Boston Bruins organization, so the decision to relieve him of his coaching duties Monday wasn’t easy for general manager Don Sweeney.
“A really tough day overall,” Sweeney told reporters Tuesday during a news conference. “But I had to make a decision that I felt was in the best interest of where our team was at now and moving forward.”
So, how did Cassidy, who spent the last six seasons as Boston’s head coach, take the news?
“Not well, as I didn’t (when) delivering it,” Sweeney explained. “I sat there and said, ‘I’m the same guy that six years ago sat with you to believe in you,’ and I sat there (Monday) believing in him as an excellent head coach. It’s just I made a very difficult decision and I had to deliver the news as I would, in person, and discuss some of the things where we both fell short and not getting the job done and wishing him well. It’s only a matter of when — not a matter of if — he has a next opportunity.”
Cassidy, who worked in Providence before arriving in Boston, replaced Claude Julien during the 2016-17 season and led the Bruins to six consecutive playoff appearances, including the Stanley Cup Final in 2019. Boston is coming off a 2021-22 campaign in which it totaled 107 points in the regular season before falling to the Carolina Hurricanes in the first round.
Ultimately, though, Sweeney determined Cassidy’s message wasn’t being received as it had in the past. And thus, the decision was made to move on, with the Bruins seeking a new voice and Cassidy potentially landing elsewhere after a mostly successful run in Black and Gold.
“I think Bruce has evolved,” Sweeney said. “I’ve been working with Bruce for 14 years. I’ve watched him grow into — and it’s the reason why he was hired six years ago, or I promoted him six years ago. Because I knew what his skill set as a coach was.
“As far as evolving, I think his confidence as a head coach and the messaging that he wants to deliver, I think is exactly as he wants it to be. Has it changed with the group that’s still here and is it as effective with the group that’s here? That was my determination. Not as effective as it was. Doesn’t mean it’s going to be less effective somewhere else. Because I do believe he’s a good coach and is going to have a similar winning percentage elsewhere.”
Now, the search for a new head coach in Boston begins. And it also wouldn’t be surprising to see Cassidy land on his feet sooner rather than later.