The Vegas Golden Knights find themselves two games away from the Stanley Cup Final after a come-from-behind-over-time victory in game two yesterday afternoon. The Golden Knights, who finished with 111 points and the top spot in the western conference, are doing this with first-year head coach Bruce Cassidy.
Bruce Cassidy Has The Vegas Golden Knights One Win Away From The Stanley Cup Final
Cassidy, the former head coach of the Boston Bruins, was hired by the Vegas Golden Knights just eight days after the termination of his contract with the Bruins. Cassidy would go on to lead the Golden Knight to their best season in their season in franchise history. On the other hand, the Bruins would win the President’s Trophy for the third time in franchise history.
— z – Vegas Golden Knights (@GoldenKnights) May 21, 2023
The Bruins hired Jim Montgomery, who brought the Bruins to new heights in the 2022-23 campaign. Setting both NHL records for wins in a season and the points total in a season, but failing to get out of the first round. Now as the Boston Bruins organization, and fans, have to watch Cassidy coach the Golden Knights, who are on their fourth-string goaltender in Adin Hill, march through the western conference final on their way to the Stanley Cup Final, the feeling of remorse is undoubtedly building up.
Boston Bruins Players Wanted Cassidy Gone
It is a shame, but the writing was on the wall for head coach Bruce Cassidy. The Bruins fired Bruce Cassidy last year for a reason nobody knows. The Bruins struggled in the playoffs with him, making it past the second round only once in his eight years behind the bench. Bruins General Manager Don Sweeney said, “I just felt that the messaging and the voice that was going to be required, I felt that we needed a new direction.”
"The players got [Bruce Cassidy] fired, and then they lose in the first round? You freaking losers."
Mike Felger not holding back on why he thinks Cassidy getting to conference Finals is "embarrassing" for the Bruins 🗣️🗣️🗣️ pic.twitter.com/amFFbZOWS1
— NBC Sports Boston (@NBCSBoston) May 16, 2023
Don Sweeney has input from many of the Bruins players when deciding to fire Cassidy. “They’re not driving the bus in terms of making my decisions, I honestly believe that they impact our hockey club more than any of us. They’re invested and I think they want to know how invested the organization is. I don’t want to take anything away from what they’re trying to accomplish as a group. I honestly believe that it doesn’t matter what they’re necessarily saying individually. It’s collectively as a group and how much they think they can accomplish. And they agreed with me, because I used the statement that we had left something on the table and they felt the same way. Young or old, I think there’s a message delivery that I think a new voice will resonate with them.”
The real issue with the reason for firing Bruce Cassidy was that he was too hard on the players, and there is no other way around it. David Krejci left to go play in Czechia in 2021-22, then returned the following year when there was a new coach. Jake DeBrusk requested a trade from the Bruins, then rescinded it immediately after Cassidy was sacked.
Cassidy Thriving In Las Vegas
Head coach Bruce Cassidy is enjoying life in the Sin City. Since his time in Vegas, none of the players have spoken ill of Cassidy’s coaching style. The players actually embrace being coached hard. That’s the difference between the two teams.
“The intensity doesn’t differentiate between regular-season games and playoff games. He’s a coach that loves to be loud and get guys going, and it’s a whole team effort. The way our guys play, the way our coaches coach and the way they trust us.” That quote came from defenseman Zach Whitecloud during Vegas’ first-round series against the Winnipeg Jets.
🎥 Whitecloud & Kolesar 🎥
Kolesar on the strength of his line: Bruce Cassidy made it clear he wants his fourth line to play against the top players on the other team. pic.twitter.com/OkEW1zfOgE
— z – Vegas Golden Knights (@GoldenKnights) May 21, 2023
Cassidy’s lineup changes have propelled the Golden Knights through these playoffs. He benched Phil Kessell, who won two Stanley Cups with the Pittsburg Penguins. He the implemented William Carrier into the lineup for his physical presence and it worked out perfectly. This move made Vegas an all around deeper team upfront. At the same time, the Bruins made changes all across their lineup in games five, six, and seven and failed to close out Florida after being up 3-1.
Laurent Brossoit, injured in game three of the Western Conference Semi-Finals against the Edmonton Oilers, spoke highly of Cassidy’s decisions when letting his players just go out and play.
"I could tell, he was back on the bench swearing in French, so I knew he missed his shot."
Bruce Cassidy with a tremendous answer re: Jonathan Marchessault, "He didn't miss the second one. Good guy to have on your team with these guys that score under pressure."#VegasBorn pic.twitter.com/TuDerEw1bn
— Vince Sapienza (@VinceSapienza) May 21, 2023
“His ability to not overdo things, He’s letting us roll lines, which is a huge vote of confidence for everyone. We’re not matching lines or whatnot. He just trusts every line to do the job, which goes a long way. When you’re rolling lines you’ll be the fresher team. Which I think was a huge advantage for us in this series.”
Could Bruce Cassidy Helped The Bruins This Year?
The actual difference that could have made a massive impact for the Bruins this year. Management could have chose not to fire Bruce Cassidy and attempted to repair those relationships with his players. The Bruins issue wasn’t that the coach was too hard on the players. It’s that the players were too soft on handling criticism from their coach.
This has nothing to do with Jim Montgomery, I genuinely think he is a fantastic coach. The lineup changes in that series against Florida made people scratch their heads. His approach to laissez-faire coaching worked for the regular season. Still, when you get into the trenches of playoff hockey. You need someone to tactician the X’s and O’s, precisely what Bruce Cassidy is providing to the Vegas Golden Knights. Vegas is one win away from the Stanley Cup Final.
Main Photo: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports