Bruce Cassidy is set to begin his first full season as head coach of the Bruins and he’s ready to start his legacy in Boston.
He served as the team’s interim coach for the final 33 regular-season games and during the postseason after the Bruins fired Claude Julien on Feb. 7. Under Cassidy, the Bruins went 18-8-1 and earned a playoff berth, before losing to the Ottawa Senators in the first round.
It was evident that Cassidy, 52, would eventually take over behind Boston’s bench after the organization fired former general manager Peter Chiarelli and replaced him with Don Sweeney in 2015.
Soon after, Chiarelli became president and general manager of the Edmonton Oilers and wanted to hire Cassidy, but the Bruins wouldn’t allow it. So, it was only a matter of time before Cassidy replaced Julien.
As the Bruins prepare for the 2017-18 season, Cassidy sat down with BostonSportsJournal.com for an exclusive, in-depth interview.
McDonald: Heard you played with Colin Montgomerie during the CVS Charity Classic in Barrington, R.I. Who else did you play with this summer?
Cassidy: Cam Neely. He’s a Hall of Famer.
McDonald: Did you let him win?
Cassidy: No. I actually won that day.
McDonald: Recently, you attended Patriots training camp day. I know you didn’t get a chance to speak with Bill Belichick, but what was it like for you to be around that atmosphere?
Cassidy: I loved it. I love the NFL and there’s no better program than the Patriots. I enjoyed it. Watching the pace and tempo of practice and how they go from one drill to the next, it was very organized. It was my first one, so I don’t know if they’re all like that. I really enjoyed it. There were a lot of competition drills, a lot of good stuff.
McDonald: Ok, let's get into the hockey. Now that you’ve had time to digest everything that happened last season, from a personal standpoint how would you describe it?
Cassidy: The (interim head coach title) never bothered me. I figured if you do your job, and I had a relationship with Donnie and I’m comfortable with him, so I figured if I did the job that we sat down and talked about, that I would get my opportunity, and I did and here we are.
The work part of it, I was ready to go. I had a lot of experience in the organization, and I’ve been through it before in Washington. Once the opportunity came, I had a pretty good idea how I was going to approach it, whether it was this year or another organization in three years. I knew how I was going to approach my next chance.
Really, there wasn’t a lot of anxiety. Kevin (Dean) asked me that question about the difference (between the AHL and NHL) and it was an interesting question because we had two days before (the Bruins) played (after I was promoted to head coach), so we didn’t have a lot of time to mess around and sometimes that’s not bad. You have your plan in place for practice, and what you’re going to say to your leaders and off you go.
Now, we’ve had three months to overthink it and there are advantages to both. For the most part, I just wanted to get after it. The guys knew there was urgency and we wanted to make the playoffs, which we did. We had to play a certain way and that was what our focus was on and let’s get back to playing a little more assertive, aggressive, live with our mistakes and learn from them and move on. I thought we did right away, so the message got across to the guys and you could tell they wanted to get back to the dance.
McDonald: Now that you’ve had this offseason to think about it more, how does that approach change going into this season?