Boston Bruins general manager Don Sweeney announced on Monday the promotion of Kevin Dean as the new head coach of Boston’s AHL affiliate, the Providence Bruins. The promotion comes after five years of experience with the Baby Bruins, in which he served as the assistant coach alongside Bruce Cassidy, who was promoted earlier this offseason to work with Claude Julien as part of the NHL club.
Before his time in Providence, Dean acted as an assistant coach for the Lowell Devils of the AHL for four seasons, before spending one season as the head coach of the ECHL’s Trenton Devils. From there, he moved on to Providence, where he’s advancing his career.
Glad Kevin Dean is getting a crack at top job in Prov. IMO, he earned respect of every player who passed thru P-Bruins room over last 5 yrs.
— Mark Divver (@MarkDivver) July 18, 2016
The decision comes after an “extended search” by Sweeney, who looked at several candidates for the job. However, Sweeney determined that the best move for the organization would be the promotion of an inside man, and Dean is the guy that fits.
“We had an extended search for the head coach position,” Sweeney said on Monday as part of a conference call. “ John Ferguson (Boston’s Director of Player Personnel) and myself spoke and met with several candidates. However, we always considered Kevin a very strong internal candidate.”
Sweeney referenced Dean’s loyalty to the organization, and his ability to prepare young players for the large step from the AHL to the NHL, as key components that made him Boston’s best candidate.
“Developing young players was always at the forefront of our search and Kevin has institutional knowledge of our current players. He is totally invested with the process of helping players get to the National Hockey League.
“He sees across the spectrum. I think that his personality lends to teaching every day and communicating every day.”
After spending several seasons as an assistant coach, Dean is ready to take on the challenge of being a minor league hockey coach – a job that comes with plenty of adversities. The Bruins have a lot of talent coming through the system, and Dean will be the man in charge of pushing them along from Providence to Boston.
“I’m excited for the challenges that it’s going to present,” said Dean. “I’ve been coaching now a long time. I’ve learned a lot but know that I have a lot to learn yet in front of me. Those challenges are exciting to me. It’s exciting to work with the tremendous young athletes we get a chance to work with.
“It’s even more exciting when I think of all the young talent that the Bruins have coming into the organization quickly in the next few seasons. We saw it last week at Development Camp.”
Dean’s experience as the head coach in Trenton, while being brief, taught him several important lessons about the job. In the ECHL, where players come and go quickly, it’s hard to find consistency within your own lineup, which means that coaches have a lot of work to do as they build the lineup from week to week. Down in the ECHL, Dean learned the importance of sticking to your own system.
“I think if you ask any coach down there [in the ECHL], it’s a challenge, you generally go through 40, 50, 60 players in any given year,” said Dean. “First-time head coach, that kind of exacerbates the challenge to some extent. The biggest mistake I thought I made was I got wrapped into results early, instead of the process to get the results you want…
“You can’t be something that you’re not or try to be someone who you’re not. Your true colors are going to shine through; they’re going to sense it and they’re going to pick up on it. So I’m just going to try to be myself and be honest with these kids and work hard every day and dig in and focus on these kids as individuals.
Dean will have plenty on his plate in the time to come, as the Bruins look down into their own system to find a new wave of players to revamp a lineup that will soon lose aging pieces of its core, such as captain Zdeno Chara.
In the coming weeks, Sweeney and company will find out who to slide in alongside Dean to act as his assistant coach.