The Boston Bruins are whittling down their head coaching candidates as they center around a handful of finalists this week.
Colorado Eagles and former Northeastern University hockey head coach Greg Cronin has been informed that he’s out of the running for the Boston Bruins head coaching gig after interview last Thursday afternoon at Warrior Ice Arena with Don Sweeney, Cam Neely and Jamie Langenbrunner, per a source with knowledge of the situation. Boston Hockey Now as the first to report last week that Cronin interviewed for the job and was among the handful of candidates identified by the Boston Bruins.
Cronin impressed during his Boston Bruins interview and has consistently done a strong job over decades coaching at the collegiate, AHL and NHL ranks, and had an impactful hand in a number of young Colorado Avalanche players that helped the Avs win the Cup this week.
Meanwhile, Boston Hockey Now has reported that St. Louis Blues assistant coach Jim Montgomery has had a second interview with the Boston Bruins while it’s also been reported that David Quinn had a second interview as well. Montgomery, Quinn and former Providence Bruins head coach Jay Leach appear to be the favorites to land the coveted NHL head coaching job vacated when Bruce Cassidy was fired a couple of weeks ago.
Montgomery was the former University of Denver head coach where former Boston Bruins forward Danton Heinen was one of his players, while Quinn coached both Charlie McAvoy and Matt Grzelcyk during his time at Boston University before moving on to the New York Rangers and Team USA at this spring’s IIHF World Championships where he coached Jeremy Swayman.
Leach, of course, coached a slew of the young Boston Bruins players on the NHL roster and the youngsters in Providence that are being counted on to bust through and contribute at the NHL level this season.
Pittsburgh Penguins assistant coach Mike Vellucci was another candidate interviewed last week, and it was interesting that the Boston Herald’s Steve Conroy reported that University of Minnesota-Duluth head coach Scott Sandelin was interviewed as well. Sandelin coached former Bruins forward Karson Kuhlman and current P-Bruins defenseman Nick Wolff during his long tenure running the UMD bench.
Spencer Carbery and Joe Sacco have also been in the running during the head coaching job search, but it feels like both candidates are far behind Quinn and Montgomery emerging as the favorites for a Boston Bruins team looking for a positive, high-energy coach that’s going to get the most out of Boston’s young core group of players.
“The coach has to have the communication skills to be able to bridge that gap with older and younger players. I think that’s paramount now with integration. As I said, in a perfect world, all players are overcooked or overbaked. Kenny Holland and my [general manager] peer group have used that terminology. We won’t be any different,” said Boston Bruins GM Don Sweeney earlier this month when announcing the Cassidy firing. “But I go back, you’ve asked me about the Lysells of the world. Only when they’re ready. I mean, David Pastrnak is a great example of that a number of years ago. We didn’t necessarily believe he was ready, but he came in and scored against Philadelphia and next thing you know, he’s in our lineup for the rest of the year and impactful moving forward.
“Those will be the challenges that we try and find the balance of development and an infusion of talent, and the new coach is going to have to be able to communicate and bridge that gap from older players, communicating with them and holding them to a standard that I think we all feel is necessary. And in this town, it is necessary to hold a team to a competitive standard. That coach has to walk that walk.”
It wouldn’t shock anyone if we learn the identity of the new Boston Bruins coach by the end of this week, or the beginning of next week to get things put into place prior to early next month’s NHL Draft in Montreal.