Boston Bruins GM Don Sweeney announced that the team plans to add another assistant coach to their staff this offseason, replacing the vacancy left by Bruce Cassidy when he was officially promoted to the head coaching spot following Boston’s playoff elimination, according to CSNNE.
When Cassidy was serving as interim head coach in the later half of the season, the Bruins operated with only three assistant coaches, Joe Sacco, Jay Pandolfo and Bob Essensa — one fewer than usual.
“I think our staff did a very good job jumping in and picking up, because we didn’t add to it at the time when we subtracted from the group. It will stay as is,” Sweeney said, per CSNNE.. “We will also be looking to add to it to complement that group. Bruce and I have already spoken briefly about it, but we haven’t identified yet and we’ve already received some people that would have some interest. We’ll pursue that accordingly.”
When Cassidy was promoted, Sacco moved from his original role behind the bench back to work with the defensemen. Many expect that he’ll return to the front of the bench next season, clearing the way up for a new defensive coach.
Finding the Right Fit
Newly-promoted head coach Bruce Cassidy said the B’s are exploring several options for their new assistant.
“Going forward, we’re going to meet and decide what’s the best fit for us,” said Cassidy, per CSNNE. “Obviously, those two have a forward background, I have a defense background, so maybe that’s an area we have to look at, what’s the best complement. But we’d be getting ahead of ourselves if I said today that we’re pinpointing an exact thing. We’ve got to look at it and say, ‘OK, who’s the best fit. What makes us the most successful?’ We’ll go from there with the candidates we get.”
All in all, Cassidy was extremely happy with his staff last season. He expressed gratitude for their ability to make the transition easier, especially given the lack of a fourth assistant coach. In particular, he praised his staff for their ability to be flexible and slide into whichever role they were needed for.
“Joe Sacco moved from the front of the bench to the D, and did a terrific job [while being a] big part of the penalty kill all year,” said Cassidy. “Jay [Pandolfo] came down from the press box, worked with the forwards, which he had worked with all year. But now he’s in the heat of the battle. They were terrific. We were a true staff… Goalie Bob [Essensa] became a little bit more of an eye in the sky for us up there. We had Kim [Brandvold], who was our skating coach, helped a lot with the practices, with the pace we were trying to establish. I can’t thank them enough.”
Now, the Bruins’ front office needs to ensure that their new hire fits in well with a coaching staff that has already meshed well together.
Boston’s choice seems especially important given the fact that the Bruins have so many young defensemen breaking into the NHL. Along with Brandon Carlo, Colin Miller and Charlie McAvoy, who have already experienced NHL-play, Matt Grzelcyk, Rob O’Gara, Jeremy Lauzon and Jakub Zboril, among others, will be looking to crack the NHL roster soon.
Their new assistant coach, whoever it may be, will play a vital role in the development of some of Boston’s most exciting prospects.