Well, well well, looky here... Yet another shocking coaching candidate has hit the open market. You knew that an article soon following about him as a coach option for the Blackhawks was coming, right? This is really shaping up to be some offseason. Nobody expected Barry Trotz to suddenly become available. Similarly, everyone was shocked with the announcement that Bruce Cassidy would not be returning behind the bench for the Boston Bruins for the foreseeable future.
Cassidy has had a rollercoaster career, to provide a comparison. He experienced success in the minor leagues as a player, before suffering repeated injuries at the NHL level with none other than the Chicago Black Hawks. The concurrent injuries resulted in him playing only 36 games for the Black Hawks over a span of 5 seasons.
From his retirement in 1996 until 2002, Cassidy was the head coach for multiple minor league teams. With significant success as a coach in the minors, he was offered his first NHL head coaching gig in 2002 with the Washington Capitals. In his first year with the team, he led them to a record of 39-29-8-6, which was good for 92 points and sixth place in the Eastern Conference. They faced the Tampa Bay Lightning in the postseason, and despite a 2-0 series lead, lost the series to Tampa Bay. After a disappointing start to the 2003-04 season, the Capitals relieved Cassidy of his duties.
Following his brief tenure with Washington, Cassidy signed on as assistant coach to the Chicago Blackhawks. The team was in the midst of their god-awful era of hockey and sports history. After a couple horrid seasons, the Blackhawks opted to not renew Cassidy's contract. Following his final season with the Blackhawks, their poor record allowed the team to draft none other than Jonathan Toews.
For the next decade, Cassidy was the head coach of two different non-NHL teams: the Kingston Frontenacs of the OHL and the Providence Bruins of the AHL. In 2016, Cassidy was called up to assist head coach Claude Julien for the 16-17 season. In February, 2017, Cassidy was named interim head coach of the Bruins after the firing of Claude Julien. As coach of the Bruins, Cassidy never experienced a single losing season, even when taking overtime losses into account. He only had one season where the Bruins finished under 100 points in the standings and that was the COVID-shortened 2020-2021 season.
Unfortunately, the postseason has been less kind to Bruce Cassidy, though I still spy plenty of success. Until this postseason, Cassidy's Bruins teams (when coached for a full season) always made it at least to the second round, including a loss to the St. Louis Blues in 7 games in the 2019 Stanley Cup Finals. This year the Bruins dropped a first round series in 7 games to the Carolina Hurricanes, prompting his departure. I don't know how you can't argue he has still been wildly successful with the team, which again is indicative of how surprising this move was.
So would this be a good move for the Blackhawks? Um. Yes. A thousand percent yes. But, similar to my Barry Trotz article, what motivation would Cassidy have to lead a rebuilding Blackhawks? Him having a background with them is not enough of an answer. Like Trotz, Cassidy is likely to have offers from many of the teams with vacancies. So something will really need to stand out for the Hawks to nab him. I'd say don't get your hopes up for him to fit with the Blackhawks, but you never know. Maybe this new front office will feel it's worth the risk to throw tons of money at the head coaching position. Maybe that's what it will take? Who knows? But, like Trotz, I wouldn't hold your breath.