Home Former NHL Coaches Thrive With New Playoff-Bound Teams: A Look at How Once-Fired Coaches are Experiencing Career Revivals

Former NHL Coaches Thrive With New Playoff-Bound Teams: A Look at How Once-Fired Coaches are Experiencing Career Revivals

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Bruce Cassidy was very surprised when he suddenly got fired from his job as the coach of Boston’s NHL team. The news made him sad for a little while, but before long Vegas Golden Knights offered him another job. He accepted this offer and said that it didn’t give him much time to mourn because he was immediately busy preparing for his new team.

The Golden Knights may clinch the top spot in their conference if they win on Thursday—they already have made history by tying their team record of 109 points. Meanwhile, the Boston Bruins also have had a very successful season; they set an NHL record recently by winning 63 games and another one Tuesday with 133 points.

Cassidy was replaced in Vegas by Pete DeBoer, who is now very successful in Dallas. The Stars were first in the Central Division with 106 points until Wednesday and beat the defending Stanley Cup champions, Colorado. Also, Rick Bowness moved to Winnipeg and guided the Jets all the way to a spot in the Western Conference playoffs.

DeBoer said that the coaches in the NHL are really good and they make it possible for other coaches to be successful when they move to different teams. Since 2020, out of 32 NHL coaches, 23 have been hired. So it’s not easy to stay a coach for long in this league.

Cassidy worked for the Bruins for a long time and they didn’t rush to end his time with them. He took the Bruins all the way to Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final in 2019 but was let go three weeks after the team lost in their first round playoff game against Carolina. New coach Montgomery said being part of Boston is special, as there are very high expectations here.

In Vegas, the expectations for success are high. The team called Golden Knights even went to the Stanley Cup Final in their first year and they’re trying to win their third division title. The coaches working for this franchise have been changed often; Gerard Gallant was fired in the middle of his third season and DeBoer got fired when Golden Knights didn’t make it to the playoffs for once last season.

Vegas general manager Kelly McCrimmon said they made a decision concerning Pete because they believed it was in the best interest of their organization. He also mentioned that Boston made a similar decision. Both organizations want to create the best outcome for the future, so they are always evaluating different options available.

When Cassidy got the job in Vegas he understood that it was a big pressure situation as the team wanted to do their best and win the cup each year. He thought about other clubs, but chose this one instead because it seemed like more of a challenge to him.

It was not easy for Cassidy and his family to leave Boston since they had been there for 14 years. Before that, he coached a hockey team in Providence. His family still own a house in Cape Cod which they go back to during the summer. His kids are in middle school and were born in New England but have now moved to another part of the country. They surprisingly like living here despite the drastic change.

Cassidy was happy with the resilience of his children. They had lots of friends which kept them stable despite regular middle school probems. Even their friends from Boston came to visit since it’s a fun place like Vegas, unlike Winnipeg where it may have been harder. Despite all these, Cassidy did an awesome job in managing everything this season- and it wasn’t easy!

The Knights have used a record amount of five different goalies, and there’s still uncertainty about who’ll be playing the net during playoffs. Mark Stone, Jack Eichel, Shea Theodore, Alex Pietrangelo, and Zach Whitecloud have all been absent for long periods due to health or personal issues.

Bruce and his team have done a brilliant job keeping up with the changing lineups, even when they had very few players. People have noticed that the players called up from their partner club (Henderson) or those shouldering extra responsibility within the team are playing really well.

The most experienced coaches (Cassidy, Montgomery, DeBoer & Bowness) know how to adjust in all sorts of situations over time.

As a coach, you become more confident and sure of your decisions. This means that the message you are sending out is clear and stronger. I can’t remember the exact moment, but when I got my start as a coach, I was only 40 years old which made me the youngest in the league. It feels like it was just yesterday, but now 15 to 16 years have already passed.

Jimmy Golen in Boston and Stephen Hawkins in Dallas contributed news about the NHL. You can find more information from the AP NHL website, or follow them on Twitter.

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