Sporting a shorter haircut and his trademark good humor and enthusiasm, Bruce Cassidy on Thursday held his first Las Vegas press conference after being named the new coach of the Golden Knights two days earlier.
Cassidy, 57, was abruptly let go as the Bruins bench boss on June 6, and noted to the Vegas media contingent that he takes on the new challenge with a sense of having something to prove.
“I do — I got let go,” said Cassidy, who directed the Bruins to the playoffs for six straight seasons. “This is not some sort of revenge tour or something like that. I want to prove to myself, more importantly, that I am capable of doing the job and winning … winning in a postseason.”
Sent packing on Causeway Street because Bruins general manager Don Sweeney and president Cam Neely felt it was time for a “new voice” and a change in the messaging to players, Cassidy once again characterized the parting as disappointing.
“There’s a lot of emotions that go into it,” he said. “You sort of lick your wounds, then consult your children, and then the phone started ringing for me. I was very flattered that people valued how I did my job.
“I just felt this was going to be a great fit for me. I knew, hockey-wise, it was going to be a no-brainer for me.”
Cassidy, who had a year remaining on his Bruins deal, declined to reveal the length or monetary terms of his new deal, but made it clear he was happy.
“Like any coach, I was looking to get some security [in term length],” he said. “But I will tell you I am exceptionally pleased with my contract — no issue there.”
Cassidy and Vegas general manager Kelly McCrimmon, brother of former Bruins defenseman Brad McCrimmon, said they will turn their attention to building out the rest of the coaching staff. Neither one offered names of prospective hires.
Cassidy inherits a club that suffered a number of significant injuries over the course of the season, in part explaining why the Knights missed the playoffs for the first time in franchise history. The DNQ led to the dismissal of veteran coach Pete DeBoer.
It’s a talented lineup, one that should be quick to succeed, said Cassidy, who cited Alec Martinez and Alex Pietrangelo as key Stanley Cup-winning contributors on the backline. Martinez won in his time in Los Angeles, and Pietrangelo as a member of the Blues team that edged the Bruins in Game 7 of the Final in 2019.
“What I see in Vegas is a lot of guys that can finish,” Cassidy said. “Guys who have been through playoff series who know what it takes to get there. I’ve seen Alex and Petro win a Stanley Cup. I saw Petro a little too closely, to be quite honest with you.”
The Vegas job was the first filled among a number of high-profile spots that have opened up around the NHL since the end of the regular season.
Last Thursday, Cassidy told the Boston media that he was eager to get right back to work.
“I was going to try to pursue opportunities right away,” he said, adding with a wry smile, “as I told some people, I just got tired of being out of work.”
Kevin Paul Dupont can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.