Bruce Cassidy wins Jack Adams Award as NHL’s top coach

(Photo by John Tlumacki/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)

Bruce Cassidy sure has made the most of his second shot as a bench boss up in the NHL. 

After a tough start as an inexperienced coach with the Capitals back in 2002-04, it took Cassidy 13 years to earn another chance to lead a team up in the NHL ranks, with the longtime Providence Bruins coach taking over for Claude Julien in February 2017.

Cassidy’s ascension into the role as Boston’s head coach has proven to be a coup for the Original Six franchise — with the B’s posting a record of 261-161-66 since his promotion over three years ago.

Having already led Boston to four straight postseasons, a Stanley Cup Final and a Presidents’ Trophy in 2020, Cassidy has already built quite the resume for himself since taking the reins with the Bruins.

That sustained stretch of success was recognized on Wednesday night, as the NHL announced that Cassidy was named as the 2019-20 recipient of the Jack Adams Award — given annually to  "the NHL coach adjudged to have contributed the most to his team's success.” 

This marks the first time that Cassidy has captured the Jack Adams Award — which is voted on by the NHL Broadcasters’ Association.

"I think when it comes to the personal stuff, I look inward to my family first," Cassidy said of the accomplishment. "It's been a long road, some ups and downs and obviously starting basically at the bottom back in Providence and working your way up — so I'm thankful and grateful to them."

Cassidy was named on 82 of the 132 ballots, including 37 first-place votes, for 288 voting points. Alain Vigneault of the Philadelphia Flyers finished in second place with 32 first-place votes and 252 voting points, while John Tortorella of the Columbus Blue Jackets collected 198 points in a third-place finish. 

Cassidy, who was runner-up for the Adams in 2018, is the fourth Bruins coach to win the trophy. Don Cherry (1975-76), Pat Burns (1997-98) and Claude Julien (2008-09) previously took home the accolade. 

"I'm a lifelong Bruins fan. I was a Bobby Orr guy growing up in Ottawa," Cassidy said. "Ottawa didn't have a team then. So we were free agents a little bit in that regard. My mom was a Habs fan, my dad, Toronto, so I happened to pick Boston and so to follow those guys, to be able to do it here, is an unbelievable honor. ... I even look back before them, I still have a relationship with Harry Sinden, who's good to talk to periodically, you go back to Milt Schmidt. You go way back. There's so many good Bruins coaches over the years."

Despite suffering a devastating loss on home ice in Game 7 of the 2019 Stanley Cup Final, Cassidy helped lead a motivated Bruins roster through an abbreviated schedule — with Boston capturing its third Presidents’ Trophy as the team with the most points at the end of the regular season.

Boston was the lone club to reach the 100-point threshold before the regular season was paused back in early March — with the Bruins finishing six points ahead of second-place St. Louis. Boston has surpassed 100 points in all three of Cassidy's full seasons behind the bench.  In his three full seasons as head coach of the Boston Bruins from 2017-20, Cassidy has helped the team rank in the Top 10 in nearly every major statistical category: 143 wins (2nd), 319 points (2nd), 3.21 goals per game (6th), 2.52 goals allowed per game (1st), 24.9 power play percentage (2nd), 82.6 penalty kill percentage (T-3rd) and 50.8 faceoff win percentage (T-9th).

While the B's bench boss has accomplished plenty over his four seasons up in Boston, Cassidy reiterated multiple times that this was far from an individual accolade.

"I've said it — it's a team award," Cassidy said. "Everyone contributed. I get my name on the trophy, which is great, I'm honored to have it, but up and down the organization, I think everyone should be acknowledged when the coach wins."