With the Boston Bruins about to begin a search for a new head coach after firing Bruce Cassidy on Monday, they will have a plethora of veteran, big-name coaches and not so popular but up and coming bench bosses.
In numerous conversations since Boston Bruins team president Cam Neely left Cassidy’s job up in the air back on May 20, there’s been some buzz that if the Bruins moved on from Cassidy as they did Monday, they will want a younger and up-and-coming coach that’s good with younger players, and that they can work hand-in-hand with implementing their desired system.
Providence College head coach Nate Leaman, UMass-Amherst head coach Greg Carvel, and former Boston Bruins center Marc Savard all seem to fit that bill.
Of course they will explore big names like Barry Trotz, John Tortorella, Pete DeBoer, Dave Tippett, Mike Babcock and even potentially the recently exiled from the NHL, Joel Quenneville if he was allowed to interview for a job again. However, keep in mind that Boston Bruins owner Jeremy Jacobs is still on the hook for Cassidy’s final season on the contract extension he signed back in September 2019. Do you really think he’s going to pay top dollar and sign off on a long-term and expensive contract for any of those big-name coaches?
More importantly, out of all the names mentioned here so far, none of those coaches are likely the fit what the Boston Bruins are looking for. All of those coaches pride themselves on defensive-minded systems. They also tend to lean on veterans heavily and can sometimes be too demanding and impatient with younger players. In his end of the season press conference, Cam Neely made it very clear that he wants the team to play a more offensive system. He also doesn’t want the younger players on the roster to be hesitating because they’re afraid to mistakes, something he said was happening under Cassidy’s watch.
“There’s no question players are afraid to make mistakes, especially younger players, because, you know, you hear about it,” when asked if the youth on the Boston Bruins lineup is afraid to make mistakes under Cassidy? “And I was one of those players that, you know, I had to learn and grow. And I heard about it, too. And I made mistakes as a younger player. But you can’t worry about not getting back out there. I think that’s one of the things we have to kind of change. I think when younger players make mistakes, they’re worried they’re not going to play the next game while that game is still going on.”
There’s also some not so big names and some less experienced NHL coaches on the market in Travis Green, Jeff Blashill, Jim Montgomery, David Quinn, Scott Arniel, Guy Boucher, and wait for it. …Patrick Roy. Imagine longtime nemesis Cam Neely hiring Patrick Roy? Yeah, no!
As for the aforementioned trio of Leaman, Carvel and Savard, the reviews from around the NHL are great and they are all on other teams’ radars as well.
“I think all three could be great fits for the Bruins,” one NHL executive source told Boston Hockey Now recently. “They don’t have the NHL coaching pedigree – well Savard was an assistant (with the St. Louis Blues in 2019-20) – but no head coaching experience at this level. That being said, Leaman and Carvel have plenty of experience working with younger players and winning championships. Look at what Savard has done so far with Windsor!”
The former Boston Bruins pivot has the Windsor Spitfires three wins away from the OHL Championship and a berth in the Memorial Cup after going 44-17-7 in his first regular season as the Spitfires bench boss. There has been speculation that the Dallas Stars were interested in interviewing Savard for their vacant coaching post and his name has been in plenty of coaching rumors lately. With a NHL career built on his playmaking and offensive skills as a player, could Savard be the elixir for that putrid powerplay the Bruins had down the stretch and in the playoffs this past season.
Leaman has led the Providence College to a winning season in all but one of his 11 seasons behind the bench for the Friars. he also led them to a National Championship in 2015. Leaman interviewed for the Providence Bruins head coaching job before Ryan Mougenel was hired prior to this past season. He’s also interviewed for the head coaching job with the Ottawa Senators, and reportedly other teams.
“Nate’s been knocking on the door for awhile now,” another NHL executive source told BHN Monday night. “I know Sweeney is a big fan of his as well so I’d imagine they circle back with him.”
According to numerous NHL sources, Carvel was on the short list for the Buffalo Sabres job before they took the interim tag off Don Granato last offseason. He just signed a multi-year extension with UMass-Amherst, loves the program and living in the UMass community so it may be tough to pry him away from the cushy and successful situation he’s in now, but he should be on the Bruins’ list after making the Minutemen a national hockey power and bringing them their first national championship in 2021.
Carvel also coached St. Lawrence for four seasons and was an assistant for one there as well. Prior to his college coaching career, Carvel was an assistant coach with the Ottawa Senators for six seasons and also with the Anaheim Ducks for one.
“Greg loves it there for sure, but you never know when the right fit in the NHL comes along and if it will ever come again,” the same source said Monday night.
Keep an eye on Savard, Leaman and Carvel in the coming days and weeks because right now they appear to be more of what Neely and Don Sweeney covet as they begin the post-Cassidy era.