Bruce Cassidy’s NHL Tenure Has Him Prepared for 2022 Olympics

As one chapter comes to an end, another begins. The day after the closing ceremony of the 2020 Summer Olympics, Hockey Canada announced the makeup of Team Canada’s coaching staff for the 2022 Winter Olympics. Boston Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy will be an assistant coach alongside Tampa Bay Lightning’s Jon Cooper as head coach. Barry Trotz (New York Islanders head coach) and Peter DeBoer (Vegas Golden Knights head coach) will also be assistant coaches.

Bruce Cassidy More Than Qualified for Olympic Hockey

While this is Cassidy’s first time coaching internationally, he should have no issue adjusting to the ice in Beijing, China. The Bruins bench boss is well-seasoned at coaching various levels. The 2021-22 NHL season will be his sixth in Boston, and during his tenure, the team has made never failed to make the playoffs.

Bruce Cassidy Boston Bruins
Bruce Cassidy, Boston Bruins (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

The Bruins have a 194-82-41 record under Cassidy, and 2019-20 was arguably his best season with the club, as he won the Jack Adams Award and the team won the Presidents’ Trophy with a 44-14-12 record. That season, the Bruins also topped the league in regulation wins (38), wins (44), points (100), and goals allowed per game (2.39). This past season, the team walked away with 73 points and a 33-16-7 record. 

Cassidy’s NHL coaching career began in 2002-03 with the Washington Capitals. The following season (the NHL lockout), he worked with the American Hockey League’s Norfolk Admirals. In 2005-06, he was an assistant coach for the Chicago Blackhawks and then became head coach of the Ontario Hockey League’s Kingston Frontenacs in 2006-07. Finally, he was an assistant coach for the AHL Providence Bruins at the beginning of the 2008-09 season. 

The 56-year-old’s coaching resume is impressive and he will be an excellent mind behind the Team Canada bench. 

Cassidy Says Team Canada Assistant Coach Assignment is an “Honour”

Speaking on TSN Radio about being named to Team Canada’s Olympic staff, Cassidy exclaimed, “It’s obviously a terrific honor to represent your country.”

He was also asked about the process of being named and said, “I got a call from Doug Armstrong… he asked me if I’d like to be on the staff. Of course, I would. So, we’ve talked a few times as coaches, and they made an announcement yesterday. Obviously, it was a quick yes. I can’t wait to get there and, as I said, hopefully, it gets put together, and we all get to go and play.”

Armstrong (St. Louis Blues general manager) will be leading the management group as Team Canada’s general manager alongside associate general manager Ken Holland (Edmonton Oilers GM). Ron Francis (Seattle Kraken GM), Roberto Luongo (former NHL goalie), Don Sweeney (Bruins GM), and senior vice president of national teams Scott Salmond are part of management as well.

While it’s guaranteed that there will be a Team Canada at the Winter Olympics, it still isn’t set in stone that NHL players will be on the roster.

Hopes for NHL Player Participation

In 2010 and 2014, Bruins captain Patrice Bergeron competed for Team Canada, when NHL player participation was allowed in the Olympics. Luckily, there are plans for NHL players to compete in the Olympics in 2022 and 2026, however, nothing has been signed yet.  

Brad Marchand Patrice Bergeron Boston Bruins
Brad Marchand and Patrice Bergeron, Boston Bruins (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

In order to participate, an agreement must be reached between the NHL Players’ Association, the NHL, the International Ice Hockey Federation, and the International Olympic Committee (IOC). As part of the four-year extension of the NHL/NHLPA Collective Bargaining Agreement, the NHL agreed to allow players to participate in the Olympics. Yet, this agreement doesn’t ensure players will be able to represent their nation. Issues with the IOC still need to be sorted out before a decision is made. 

However, the NHL has included a two-week break in February in the 2021-22 schedule in anticipation that players will participate in the Olympics.

Assuming all goes well with the negotiations, Cassidy touched on putting together the Team Canada roster: “We’ve had a few discussions over Zoom…we’re gonna meet in September. I know that the coaches will get together with management, and they’ll have obviously been doing their homework this year with putting lists together. I’m sure there’s some slam dunks as you all know, the [Connor] McDavid’s of the world, but there’s gonna be some tough decisions, and you know I think that’s when everybody gets to have their say as a coach, and then it’s up to Doug and Coop to kind of put the best roster together that they feel guys can play a role.”

The 2022 Team Canada Olympic lineup will remain a mystery until a decision is made regarding the NHL. But whether the players are there or not, Bruce Cassidy will be behind the bench in Beijing in 2022, and he’ll be ready and honored to take on that role.

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