Latest On Boston Bruins Coaching Search

The NHL’s head coaching market is now moving quickly. The Philadelphia Flyers introduced their next head coach today, and the Vegas Golden Knights did the same yesterday. Next on the list could be the Boston Bruins. After firing Bruce Cassidy earlier this month, the Bruins have a major decision to make with who will be behind their bench next year. With Brad Marchand out for potentially the first two months of the 2022-23 season and team captain and franchise face Patrice Bergeron‘s status on returning for next year is unknown, there is a lot of uncertainty surrounding a team that hasn’t missed the playoffs in over a half-decade.

Because of that reality, it’s likely that the Bruins’ next coach, whoever that person may be, will be expected to maintain the organization’s winning standard and continue the playoff streak. Given the challenges the Bruins look to be facing early next year, one might assume that GM Don Sweeney, who is running the coaching search, would opt to pick from the top of the coaching market and hire a veteran coach with a long, proven record of success at the NHL level.

That assumption seems to be wrong, though. According to The Athletic’s Fluto Shinzawa, former New York Rangers head coach David Quinn has “emerged as a top candidate” in the Bruins’ search, and will be interviewing with the team next week. (subscription link) Shinzawa also names Jay Leach, an assistant coach on Dave Hakstol’s staff in Seattle as another “leading candidate.” Both coaches have deep ties to either the Bruins organization or the Boston area but aren’t the sort of big-name, big-ticket head coaching options that some fans may prefer.

Quinn, 55, was most recently the head coach of the United States’ men’s hockey team at the Beijing Winter Olympics, and his most recent NHL experience came as head coach of the New York Rangers. From 2018-19 to 2020-21, Quinn led a rebuilding Rangers club that was struggling in the aftermath of a near decade-long cup-or-bust competitive window. The furthest Quinn took the Rangers in his three years of coaching there was the qualifying round of the 2020-21 Stanley Cup Playoffs, where the Rangers were swept out of the bubble by the Carolina Hurricanes. Quinn’s record over those three years is 96-87-25. Perhaps best known for his upbeat, encouraging style, the height of Quinn’s coaching career came when he led Matt Grzelcyk and the Boston University Terriers to the NCAA National Championship in 2014-15, before losing to Providence College.

The other candidate to be named as a leader in the Bruins’ search by Shinzawa’s sources is Leach, an assistant coach with the Kraken. Before joining Seattle, Leach was the head coach of the Providence Bruins for four seasons. Leach went a combined 136-77-26 in Providence, helping introduce current Bruins such as Jeremy Swayman and Trent Frederic to professional hockey. Leach is a candidate who the current Bruins front office is undoubtedly highly familiar with, and that familiarity could help him in the hiring process. Like Quinn, Leach is also expected to have an interview with Boston in the near future.

While it’s definitely possible that the Bruins hire someone other than one of these two names as their next coach, these two being named as “leading candidates” in the Bruins’ search does shed some light on the team’s priorities in the process. Through these reports, we’re learning about what the Bruins want to see in their next coach. Both Quinn and Leach have vast experience coaching young players specifically, and their shared experiences indicate that skill in player development is something the Bruins are targeting in their next skipper. Both coaches are also known quantities in the world of New England hockey, meaning familiarity with the overall market the Bruins serve could also be a desired trait in this search. Regardless of who specifically they choose, it would be somewhat surprising if the Bruins’ next head coach does not possess at least one of those two qualities.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images

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