Why did the Golden Knights hire Bruce Cassidy? Former Bruins coach brings NHL experience with top-heavy forward groups to Las Vegas

Bruce Cassidy didn’t last a week on the open coaching market. 

The former Bruins head coach has been hired by the Golden Knights as the franchise’s next coach. The team confirmed after ESPN’s Kevin Weekes was first on the news. 

This will be Cassidy’s third stint as an NHL head coach. Previously, he spent the last six seasons with the Bruins before Boston fired him last week. Prior to his stint in Boston, Cassidy stood behind the Capitals bench for two seasons 2002-03 and 2003-04 before he was fired partway through his second year. 

In his career, Cassidy owns a record of 299-155-53. He was the recipient of the Jack Adams Award for NHL coach of the year in 2019. 

The Golden Knights now have their third head coach in franchise history. The organization fired Peter DeBoer in May after Vegas failed to make the postseason despite Cup contender expectations.

Cassidy immediately jumped to the top of team’s wish lists when he became available, and now he is joining a club that is built to compete in Vegas. 

MORE: Ranking the Bruins’ 4 best coaching candidates to replace Bruce Cassidy

Why did the Golden Knights hire Bruce Cassidy?

Cassidy was not going to be out of a job for very long. Despite making the playoffs in all six seasons, including a run to the finals in 2019, the Bruins’ front office elected to let go of Cassidy, citing the need for a “new voice” in the locker room. 

Now the Golden Knights bring in a coach that has sported a record of 245-108-46 over the past six seasons. Only the Lightning’s Jon Cooper and Penguins’ Mike Sullivan notched more wins during that time span. 

Vegas is built with a top-heavy forward group. They are going to have one of the best lines in hockey when Jack Eichel, Max Pacioretty and Mark Stone skate together next season. It’s not easy to manage a team that is structured in this manner, where a coach needs to know how to properly use his top line, while also recognizing when to split those stars up. 

Luckily for the Golden Knights, Cassidy has that experience. While at the helm of the Bruins, he had the line of Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak. He kept the trio together, but showed he also wasn’t afraid to split up that line up and even out the wealth. That tactic was on full display this season, when the Bruins turned their season around at the new year with Cassidy choosing to move Pastrnak to the second line. 

In addition, Bruins president Cam Neely stated that at times, young players were too afraid to make mistakes under Cassidy, which also contributed to his termination as Boston’s head coach. If true, that’s an issue that shouldn’t come up in Vegas. 

By being aggressive with trades and acquiring top players for prospects, the Golden Knights’ shelves are fairly empty in terms of up-and-coming players. First-round picks Cody Glass, Erik Brannstrom, Nick Suzuki and Peyton Krebs have all been traded away. The only top draft picks left in the organization are Brendan Brisson and Zachary Dean, who were the selections in 2020 and 2021. Vegas does not own a first-round pick this year. 

So if what Neely claimed is the truth, then Cassidy does not have to worry about trying to get more out of young players because there aren’t many to begin with. Brisson and defensive prospect Lukas Cormier may have a chance to see NHL playing time next season, but other than that, you’re looking at a roster full of established players. 

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