The Boston Bruins will host the Vegas Golden Knights and play against their former head coach Bruce Cassidy Monday night at TD Garden.
So what was the former Bruins bench boss did Sunday when he walked into TD Garden Sunday morning for the first time since he was fired by the Bruins and left Boston to become the head coach of the Vegas Golden Knights last June?
“Good memories. I walked out to the other bench, home bench, just to see what it was like,” Bruce Cassidy replied when asked what he was thinking as he returned to what was his second home from the 2016-17 season until last summer. “I’ve been in that spot a lot. I used to always look up at the banners up top, wanted to hang one. …that didn’t happen, so. …but still great memories. Good to see ‘Gryzz’s [Matt Grzelcyk], dad, people walking around. Tomorrow will be even better. I’m sure the McCorkle’s (TD Garden Security Details for Boston Bruins and Boston Celtics coaches), I’m sure will be here.
It’s things like that. There’s good memories of people you meet to be honest, behind the scenes, run into Billy Jaffe (NESN), for awhile, talked hockey, and youth hockey. So yeah, just stuff that happened in the past and like I said, I alway had great memories from here.”
In their exit meetings after losing to the Carolina Hurricanes in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals, the Boston Bruins told Bruce Cassidy he would return for a sixth full season as head coach. Less than a month later, they reversed course and fired the coach that led them to Game 7 of the 2019 Stanley Cup Final and coached them to 245 regular season wins after replacing 2011 Stanley Cup champion-winning coach Claude Julien in February, 2017.
Like many, Cassidy was stunned by the firing, but it didn’t take him long to get back on his feet as the Vegas Golden Knights hired him just 11 days after the Boston Bruins dismissed him. Cassidy hasn’t dwelled on but instead embraced the past and his time behind the Bruins bench. He and the Golden Knights will enter TD Garden Monday night with the best record (18-7-1, 37 pts), in the Western conference and the third best record in the NHL behind the Boston Bruins (20-2-0, 40 pts), and the New Jersey Devils (20-4-1, 41 pts).
Part of that success, and more importantly, who Cassidy is as an NHL head coach now is a result of his time coaching and working with the likes of former Bruins captain Zdeno Chara and current captain Patrice Bergeron. Cassidy also matured as a head coach helping and watching the likes of Brad Marchand, David Pastrnak and Tuukka Rask grow into NHL superstars.
“I just think the appreciation of being around solid professionals like Zdeno Chara,” Cassidy replied when asked what may be one of the biggest lessons he learned during his time with the Bruins. “Obviously ‘Bergy’. Watched the growth of ‘Marchy’ and ‘Pasta’. …the growth of Tuukka, you know I could go down the list. Just a lot of. …the culture that was created, and I’ve said this before, I think Claude laid a terrific foundation. We built off that and I think ‘Monty’ [Bruins head coach Jim Montgomery], has continued to do the same.
So, I think that’s what I took from it. The strong organizations or teams that are there every year, I think they have a foundation and a culture. So, that was really important I think and when I was younger I didn’t maybe appreciate that much and I’m thinking, ‘This is how I’m gonna play; these are gonna be my matchups’, where it’s a little deeper than that.”