Bruce Cassidy may have been blindsided.
The former head coach of the Boston Bruins, who was given his walking papers earlier this week despite another largely successful season at the helm, told reporters Thursday that he believed he would retain his position following his mid-May exit meeting when the message from general manger Don Sweeney was, simply, "status quo."
Several weeks later, instead, Sweeney reportedly showed up at Cassidy's house Monday to inform him that he wouldn't be coaching in the final season of his deal.
Bruce Cassidy was told by Bruins upper management that his job was safe before being fired earlier this week. pic.twitter.com/itp45Fxr9Y
— Sportsnet (@Sportsnet) June 9, 2022
Wearing a Boston Celtics t-shirt, Cassidy was clearly upset in his near-hour-long session with the Boston media Thursday, insinuating that it will be tough to reconcile with Sweeney's decision.
"The Bruin is basically tattooed to me," Cassidy said. "I feel I did my job."
Cassidy has, however, already been in contact with other teams with coaching vacancies around the league, wishing to continue his career immediately.
"This is what I do," he said.
Cassidy, as well as fans and media alike, are right to be confused by the decision. The Bruins had a .672 winning percentage in parts of six seasons and made the playoffs each year with Cassidy, continuously ranking near the top of the league in many important metrics that measure underlying performance.
He also won 36 games in the Stanley Cup playoffs and guided the Bruins to the Stanley Cup final in 2019. The team continued to perform at a high level despite a net-negative loss in overall talent, with the likes of Zdeno Chara, Tuukka Rask, David Krejci and Torey Krug leaving the organization since the Stanley Cup final run three years ago.
Sweeney explained Tuesday that the decision was made because he believed the messaging needed to change from the coach, saying that it took a "toll" on the players. He said the problem was twofold, and the messaging wasn't being delivered or received in a productive manner.
"I think the players felt they were very well prepared," Sweeney said, via The Athletic. "But at times, young and old, they struggled. Sometimes that’s the voice that’s in their head. Ultimately, I had to make a decision that takes us in a different path."
Boston faces an uncertain future regardless of who's coaching the Bruins. Captain Patrice Bergeron is reportedly mulling retirement, David Pastrnak is reportedly unhappy with Sweeney, and Brad Marchand had both his hips operated on and will miss the start of the season. This is on top of the fact that Sweeney has invested significant dollar and term into one of the oldest rosters in the NHL.
Vegas, Philadelphia, and Detroit seem like reasonable landing spots for Cassidy now that he's hit the open market as one of the hottest free agent coaches, while Barry Trotz might be a prime candidate to take over the reins in Boston.
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