The hockey world was almost as shocked when the Boston Bruins fired head coach Bruce Cassidy as they were when the New York Islanders fired Barry Trotz just a few weeks before.
While many NHL fans wanted their favorite teams to hire Cassidy, and while many were apparently considering it, one interesting theory came out about his dismissal from Beantown.
According to Fluto Shinzawa of The Athletic, young players weren’t receptive to Cassidy’s demanding and demeaning nature in Boston. The story didn’t seem to scare away Vegas when they hired Cassidy just over a week later.
If it was his relationship with young, up-and-coming players that ended his time in Boston, Cassidy should have nothing to worry about in Vegas. The Golden Knights are made up of skilled and experienced veterans, many of whom have already “been there and done that.”
Vegas’s players are battle-tested. Even if we buy into the story surrounding Cassidy’s dismissal, it shouldn’t be anything the cast of who’s who in Vegas can’t handle.
Bruce Cassidy should find success with the Vegas Golden Knights.
Vegas has clearly put assembling a young team on the back burner for now. Will there be young call-ups from the AHL? If growing a young core, much like the New Jersey Devils, was their objective, they might have opted for a different coach.
For the second straight time, Vegas also looked outside their own organization for their new coach. Then again, when the team has only been around a handful of years, it’s hard for any internal candidate to gain the type of experience Peter DeBoer and Cassidy came with.
Cassidy also keeps an interesting streak alive with Vegas. Each other coach in franchise history has made it to the Stanley Cup Final and lost. Gerrard Gallant famously made his appearance with the “golden misfits” in Vegas’s inaugural season, while Peter DeBoer made it in separate trips with the Devils in 2012 and San Jose Sharks in 2016.
Cassidy was Boston’s bench boss when they lost to the St. Louis Blues in seven games back in 2019, making him Vegas’s only coach so far to come within one win of a championship.
Back when Gallant was hired, there were questions about why Vegas made that choice. With their past two hires of DeBoer and Cassidy, it’s obvious they’re prioritizing playoff experience.
Much has been speculating that Boston’s cup window is closing, while Vegas is wide open. After that trip to the Cup Final in 2018, Vegas grew impatient and greedy waiting for a cup.
Expectations are arguably higher this season for Vegas than they were for Boston during Cassidy’s tenure. The team expected a one-way trip back to the Final after trading for Jack Eichel, yet anything that could go wrong went wrong this past season, and the team missed the playoffs for the first time in franchise history.
The bar was set impossibly high back in their first year, and this roster is far from “misfits”, however golden they may be.
Maybe “impatient” is the perfect description for this team. After all, Jack Eichel has never played in a playoff game in his entire career. Vegas may lack the entitlement Boston had as being an “original six” franchise, but a Cup is, even more, a priority for their front office.