On Wednesday, reports came out of Boston that Boston Bruins Assistant Coach Kevin Dean was no longer with the organization. It has yet to be reported if Dean is leaving on his own accord with one year left on his contract or if the Bruins are letting him go. Dean was hired in 2011 as an assistant with the Providence Bruins of the American Hockey League and became the head coach of the Baby B’s for one season in 2016-17, leading the team to the Eastern Conference Finals. The Bruins moved Dean into an assistant role with the parent club the following season, where his primary responsibility was working with the defensemen.
The Bruins are in the market for another coach on their staff. Currently, Joe Sacco and Chris Kelly are the assistants, and Bob Essensa is the goalie coach. If these coaches all stay, the likely replacement would be someone who would work with the blue liners. Some names have been bounced around on social media, and here are some people to consider.
Savard is a former Bruin who helped begin the franchise’s resurgence by signing with the club in 2006. The playmaking center played 304 regular-season games with Boston and totaled 305 points. He also compiled 22 points in 25 playoff games. His career was cut short by concussion issues. Savard spent the 2019-20 season as an assistant with the St. Louis Blues and is currently the head coach of the Windsor Spitfires of the Ontario Hockey League with a record of 44-17-7. Savard would seem to be a great candidate to run a power play that struggled for the Bruins this past season. It may also be helpful for Savard to help with incoming young centermen.
Recchi, another former Bruin, was a Hall of Fame player who helped lead the Bruins to their first Stanley Cup in 39 years in 2011. Recchi has a soft spot because of his role in winning the Cup. Recchi has coached five seasons as an assistant with Pittsburgh and New Jersey and was recently fired from the Devils’ staff after coaching a struggling power play (sound familiar)? A reunion with the Bruins is unlikely, but anything is possible.
Bowness is a long-time, highly respected coach who began his NHL coaching career in 1984-85 with the Winnipeg Jets. Bowness has familiarity with Boston as he coached the Bruins to the third round of the playoffs in 1991-92. The 67-year-old most recently coached the Dallas Stars for the last three seasons. Although Bowness stepped down as Stars’ coach, he said that he had “lots of fire left.” If the Bruins are looking for an experienced NHL coach who could potentially replace Bruce Cassidy if the team starts slowly next season, Bowness might be the guy.
This is probably more of a reach here, but Tocchet has been rumored to return to an NHL bench soon. Currently, the former Bruin is an analyst on TNT, but he has been an NHL head coach for the Tampa Bay Lightning and Arizona Coyotes for a total of six seasons. However, the former sixth-round pick has only made the playoffs one time as a coach.
Chara is a beloved former captain of the Bruins but has not officially retired from the NHL. If the future Hall of Famer decides to end his 24-year career, the Bruins might consider bringing him in to work with the defensemen. It is unclear if Chara would want to get into coaching or how quickly he would like to transition into it. If the 6’9” Chara does become an assistant coach, it will be hard for fans sitting behind the bench to see the ice from behind him.
If you notice a trend, the Bruins like to hire their assistants from within or bring in coaches who previously had connections to the team. The fans love McQuaid, who embodied the identity that the organization has exemplified over the years with physicality and toughness. There hasn’t been much indication whether McQuaid would ant to coach as he has no professional experience. But if he does, McQuaid might be someone who can join the coaching staff and learn on the fly.
The Bruins will probably hire a defensive-minded assistant rather than shuffle current coaches. If the team’s history is any indication, the next assistant coach will have some sort of connection to the organization. My pick would be Bowness, who had a ton of NHL experience and could fill in seamlessly if the team decides to move on from Cassidy.