Eager to get right back to work, Bruce Cassidy said Thursday that he already has heard from a number of NHL teams about their coaching vacancies and that he’d like to be back behind a bench for the 2022-23 season.
“Absolutely,” he said. “This is what I do.”
Cassidy, 57, fired Monday after five-plus seasons as the Bruins bench boss, revealed during a 50-minute Zoom session with media that he’d been told by general manager Don Sweeney at the conclusion of the playoffs that he would return on the job here in September, his standing as coach “status quo.”
So it was a surprise, he said, when Sweeney asked to meet Monday at the coach’s Winchester home and he found out that his work here had come to an end.
“I was under the assumption and preparing for it,” said Cassidy. “But at the end of the day, you are always on the clock as a coach. So it did catch me a bit by surprise.
“He explained his process … and again, I respect what he has to do as a general manager.”
Sweeney, noted Cassidy, was very respectful in delivering the pink slip, one that he remains hopeful of quickly exchanging for a new contract elsewhere in the Original 32.
“I want to be the coach of the Boston Bruins,” said Cassidy. “But again, here we are ... I’m on to the next challenge and hopefully I can be successful.”
A half-dozen clubs — Detroit, Dallas, Chicago, Winnipeg, Philadelphia, and Vegas — are interviewing for their next coach. Florida and possibly San Jose (yet to name a new GM) also could be contemplating a change.
A number of those clubs already have been in contact with Cassidy’s agent, Francois Giguere, and Cassidy acknowledged that he had spoken to a few of the teams.
It’s also possible that other clubs, not on record to be seeking a coaching change, at least will kick the tires on Cassidy, who delivered a 245-108-46 (.672) record in his 399 regular-season games behind the Black-and-Gold bench.
Cassidy thanked a long list of people, particularly Bruins players, for an opportunity that stretched across 14 years, dating back to joining the organization when then-GM Peter Chiarelli hired him as an assistant coach at AHL Providence.
“First off, I want to thank the city of Boston — and Bruins fans for all their support over the years,” he said, reading from a statement at the start of the session. “It has been a privilege and honor to lead the Original Six franchise here.”
Cassidy continued by thanking ownership (the Jacobs family), team president Cam Neely, and Sweeney for putting their trust in him.
“And to all the players … staff, medical team, equipment managers … they have been great for me, great to work with, and I appreciate everything they’ve done for the team. But predominantly the players — they’re the ones that play and determine your fate. I can’t thank them enough for all they’ve done, for every player that’s worn the crest over the years.”
Cassidy also addressed Sweeney’s comments that it had come time to move on, in part, because of the nature and tone of the coach’s messaging.
“In my next challenge, I’ll make sure that I’m mindful of the messaging,” said an earnest Cassidy. “Because I respect Donny when he talks to me about what you need to do to be better. He’s been in the game a long time.
“So that’s something I’ll have to take with me to the next job … but still, drive home the accountability, because I don’t think you have much of a team if players aren’t held accountable to a standard.”
Cassidy defended his record of developing players, some of whom, he noted, he began to work with in Providence.
“To be perfectly frank, I’m very proud of the work I’ve done,” he said. “When I came on board [in Boston], we changed a lot of players — infused our team with a lot of young players: Jake DeBrusk, Anders Bjork, Danton Heinen. [David Pastrnak] was still young, [Matt] Grzelcyk, [Brandon] Carlo, [Charlie McAvoy]. A lot of those guys have gone on and had real nice careers.”
He later added to the list with Trent Frederic and Jack Studnicka (“now knocking on the door”).
“We’ll see how that plays out down the road for the next coach,” he said. “And how much availability there is on the roster for him. But [Jakub] Zboril was turning the corner, Jeremy Lauzon [now in Nashville] did really good work for us. We are seeing [Jeremy] Swayman develop.
“Like I said, I am very proud of my record with young guys.”
Cassidy said a couple of times that he’d like to have a job for the upcoming season. Detroit, Dallas, and possibly Vegas would seem to be fine fits.
Asked if he was close to being hired by a particular team, he said, “They probably know that better than I do. They’re the ones doing the hiring.
“Like I’ve said, I want to get back to work — hopefully it’s the best fit possible. That’s not always the case, but that’s what I am hoping for, for both sides, and we’ll see where it gets to.”
Kevin Paul Dupont can be reached at email@example.com.