With the firing of Bruce Cassidy a few days ago, the Bruins organization now must begin its search for the next head coach. The next coach will play an essential role in the future of the Boston Bruins as the storied franchise seems to be at the crossroads of where the team is heading. With Patrice Bergeron still mulling over his decision on whether to come back and Brad Marchand rehabbing from hip surgery that will sideline him for six months, the Bruins have major decisions to make. The core that brought the Bruins to three Stanley Cup Finals and took home the Cup in 2011 is quickly disappearing, ushering in a new core of young players. The new coach will need to be able to develop the young talent that sits in the Bruins pipeline while also balancing veteran players. With names such as Fabian Lysell, Mason Lohrei, Johnny Beecher, Jack Studnicka, and even Trent Frederic, the new coach will need to be able to get the best out of them and help retool this roster with these promising young players.
A potential replacement for Bruce Cassidy is the coach who replaced him at the AHL level. When Cassidy got the call-ups to the Bruins to replace Claude Julien, it was Jay Leach who took over down in Providence. Leach had great success in Providence as his teams were constantly winning, but he was also developing these young players into NHL-caliber talent. Over his five seasons spent in Providence, with four of them being as the head coach Leach was able to develop a long list of players that included Danton Heinen, Sean Kuraly, Jake DeBrusk, Noel Acciari, Karson Kuhlman, Matt Grzelcyk, Anders Bjork, Trent Frederic, Frank Vatrano, Connor Clifton, Jeremy Lauzon, and Dan Vladar. With his success with these players, management continually praised him for call-ups and seamless transitions.
Jay Leach’s connection with the Bruins’ organization runs deeper than just his time spent coaching the Providence Bruins. Leach played college hockey at Providence College, where he was a captain. Leach was drafted in the 5th round, 115th overall in the 1998 NHL Entry Draft, and would make his way to the Bruins organization in the 2004-2005 season. Leach played three years for the Providence Bruins, and during his Bruins tenure, he played in two games with the varsity in 2005-2006.
Prior to this season, Leach left the P-Bruins for an opportunity as an NHL assistant coach for the Seattle Kraken. Leach joined Dave Hakstol’s staff for their inaugural year and helped the Kraken through their ups and downs.
Even with his deep-rooted connections with the storied franchise, many don’t see Leach as the right fit to lead this team through the whirlwinds they are about to experience. Why do some have Leach as the favorite to take over? The fans have expressed opinions as the consensus seems they want a veteran coach with years of NHL head coaching experience. Would Leach make a great assistant coach in Boston for whoever takes over? Yes, he would, but at the moment, the lack of NHL coaching experience is against him. Even Bruce Cassidy had 110 games of head coach experience under his belt from his work with the Washington Capitals in the early 2000s. If the Bruins want to weather this storm, they will need a veteran coach as their captain and change from the mold of promoting within. Possible veteran options such as Barry Trotz, Rick Tocchet, John Tortorella, and Paul Maurice could all make sense for the Bruins.