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Golden Knights hire Bruce Cassidy as new head coach

The Vegas Golden Knights have a new head coach, and it’s none other than former Boston Bruins bench boss Bruce Cassidy.

ESPN’s Kevin Weekes was first to report the hiring, announcing the news on Twitter from behind a curtain in the Tampa Bay Lightning dressing room. Amazing.

“The Golden Knights are very pleased to have Bruce come in to coach our team,” said Golden Knights general manager Kelly McCrimmon in a statement. “His success in Boston over six years is extremely impressive. His teams have had a clear identity, having been among the very best in the NHL in terms of goals for, goals against, goal differential and special teams. This is the right coach for our team at this time.”

Cassidy, 57, was unceremoniously fired by the Bruins last week despite guiding the team to a 107-point campaign and its sixth consecutive postseason appearance. The Ottawa native spent six seasons as the Bruins’ head coach, beginning in 2017 when he took over for Claude Julien mid-season.

He will serve as the third head coach in Golden Knights history, following Gerard Gallant and Peter DeBoer.

Cassidy coached a total of 399 games for Boston, finishing with a stellar 245-108-46 record. He also served as the Washington Capitals’ head coach in the early 2000s, but was fired just 28 games into his second season with the club. In total, he has a coaching record of 292-155-9-53.

In 2019, Cassidy’s Bruins reached the Stanley Cup Final, but fell to the St. Louis Blues in seven games. He also won the Jack Adams Award after the COVID-19-shortened 2019-20 season.

Cassidy’s success has been well documented, but his road to the NHL was a long one. He earned his first head coaching opportunities in the ‘90s and early 2000s with a trio of now-defunct ECHL and IHL clubs. While serving as head coach of the Grand Rapids Griffins in 2001, the IHL merged into the AHL, giving Cassidy his first taste of coaching in what is now known as the NHL’s primary development league.

He later briefly served as bench boss of the OHL’s Kingston Frontenacs before eventually spending five seasons as head coach the Providence Bruins, guiding the NHL Bruins’ minor league affiliate to the playoffs in four straight seasons.

It may not have been the easiest route, but Cassidy is coming to Vegas, and he couldn’t be a better fit for this Golden Knights team. After missing the playoffs for the first time in franchise history, the Golden Knights needed to bring in a proven winner to get the team back on track, and Cassidy fits that bill.

The Knights also needed a coach with a history of working with superstar players. Jack Eichel, Mark Stone, Max Pacioretty and Alex Pietrangelo are all big names, and coaching a star-studded team like Vegas can be daunting to some. But that shouldn’t be a problem Cassidy, who coached Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand, David Pastrnak and Zdeno Chara to immense success in Boston.

The Golden Knights’ shoddy power play? Yeah. That won’t be a problem anymore. Boston has the third-most efficient power play in the NHL since Cassidy’s first full season with the Bruins.

The penalty kill? No need to worry about that either. The Bruins’ PK is also the second-best in hockey since Cassidy took over in 2016-17.

From top to bottom, the Golden Knights are going to be a vastly better team with Cassidy at the helm. And if there were any worries about their ability to return to the postseason in 2022-23, those can be put to rest.

The Golden Knights will absolutely be a Stanley Cup contender next season. Perhaps more so than ever before with Cassidy behind the bench.