The dysfunction of their front office has headlined the Bruins’ off-season as the Bruins seem to be spiraling out of control. After getting bounced in the first round of the 2022 Stanley Cup playoffs, the Bruins’ management of Don Sweeney and Cam Neely decided to fire head coach Bruce Cassidy leading to an uproar by fans. Since the news broke of the unexpected decision, there has been plenty of speculation as to who will take over as the next head coach of the storied franchise. Since 2007 the Bruins have had only two head coaches, Claude Julien and Bruce Cassidy, handling bench duties. The Bruins will have an important task in deciding who will take over as they head into uncharted waters with many question marks surrounding the roster and the direction the franchise is heading.
While it is still early in the coaching search, two names have continuously been linked to the job vacancy as the possible front runners. According to Elliotte Friend, who on his 32 Thoughts podcast shared that the Bruins have two early candidates for their head coaching job in David Quinn and Jay Leach.
Is the Veteran Option the Best Option?
David Quinn is the veteran option of the two as he has previous head coaching experience at the NHL level, something Leach lacks. Quinn is currently the head coach of the United States men’s national hockey team. Before that opportunity, Quinn was the former head coach of the New York Rangers, where he had a record of 96-87-25 across three seasons with the franchise. Adding to his coaching resume, Quinn brings his time coaching at Boston University for five years, where he helped the Terriers to a National Title in 2009 before taking over as the head coach in 2013. Quinn was also the head coach of the Colorado Avalanche’s AHL affiliate, the Lake Erie Monsters.
Quinn’s ability to coach and develop young talent is an important aspect of his coming to Boston as the Bruins look to get younger. With key players waiting in the pipeline, such as Fabian Lysell, Mason Lohrei, Jack Studnicka, and Trent Frederic, the Bruins will need a coach who can ensure they get the most of their talent and skills. Quinn also brings the ability to coach veteran players creating a balance the Bruins will need as they still have players such as Brad Marchand, David Pastrnak, Charlie Coyle, and Taylor Hall, amongst others currently on the roster.
Will Leach’s Connection Win him the Job?
Jay Leach is the younger, more unproven option at the NHL level but has more of a connection with the organization. Leach, currently an assistant coach for the Seattle Kraken, coached for the Providence Bruins before receiving the opportunity at the NHL level. He was first an assistant coach with the Providence Bruins on August 4th, 2016, and was promoted to head coach before the 2017–18 season. Leach also has connections with Boston and the New England area from his playing days as he played for Providence College during his collegiate days before playing for the Bruins briefly during his pro days.
Leach has an established connection with the young players already in the system, giving him a leg up in the eyes of Sweeney and Neely, who have worked with Leach for years. Leach developed players during his Providence days such as 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. The lack of NHL experience, though, could be Leach’s downfall as the Bruins will need a coach with more experience to weather the storm ahead.
The Bruins are most likely still weeks away from filling the vacancy as they will interview every possible name and look for the best possible option. The Bruins need to tread lightly as whoever they hire will play a key role in whether soon-to-be free agent David Pastrnak will want to remain in Boston. He will head to the negotiating table come July as the Bruins will try to get him locked up long-term with an extension. There is also still Patrice Bergeron, who hasn’t given an answer as to whether or not he will return to Boston for another season or retire. If Bergeron does decide to return, expect him to have a say in who will take over the helm moving forward.