The Boston Bruins fired coach Bruce Cassidy on Monday, several weeks after losing in the first round of the playoffs.
General manager Don Sweeney announced the surprising move Monday night and said the search for a replacement will begin immediately. He called it “an extremely difficult decision.”
“His head coaching record for the Bruins is impressive, and we are appreciative of Bruce both professionally and personally,” Sweeney said in a statement. “After taking some time to fully digest everything, I felt that the direction of our team for both this season and beyond would benefit from a new voice.”
The Bruins made the playoffs in each of Cassidy’s six seasons behind the bench since taking over for Claude Julien in February 2017. He coached them within one victory of the Stanley Cup in 2019, a hard-fought series against the St. Louis Blues.
Boston bowed out in seven games to Carolina in the first round this spring.
Cassidy, 57, who seemed to coach several editions of the Bruins to their full potential, immediately becomes a top candidate for vacancies in Philadelphia, Chicago, Winnipeg, Vegas and Detroit and any others that may now come open because of his availability. After struggling in two seasons with Washington in his first NHL head-coaching job in the early 2000s, Cassidy developed into one of the smartest hockey minds around by working through the minors with Providence of the American Hockey League and succeeding with Boston.
“Throughout his time in both Providence and Boston, Bruce’s deep passion for the game and pride he showed in representing the franchise was undeniable,” chairman Charlie Jacobs said. “We wish Bruce, Julie and his entire family nothing but success in the future and thank them for all they’ve done for the team both on and off the ice.”
Whoever takes over for Cassidy faces an unenviable task of coaching a lineup that is expected to be without first-line left winger Brad Marchand and top defenseman Charlie McAvoy for at least the first two months of next season. Captain Patrice Bergeron, who won a record fifth Selke Trophy as the NHL’s top defensive forward, is also mulling retirement.