By: Will Burchfield
15 years after being named AHL Coach of the Year, former Grand Rapids Griffins coach Bruce Cassidy is taking over behind the Boston Bruins’ bench.
Cassidy was bench boss of the Griffins from 2000 to 2002, overseeing their transition from the International Hockey League to the American Hockey League. He led them to 53 wins in the 2000-01 season and then 42 in the 2001-02 season.
The Griffins won the AHL’s inaugural Bud Poile Trophy as West Division champions in Cassidy’s second year at the helm, after which he won the Louis A.R. Pieri Memorial Award as the most outstanding coach in the AHL.
Cassidy moved on to become head coach of the Washington Capitals the next season, and has held various coaching positions in the NHL, AHL and OHL in the years since. He was most recently an assistant coach for the Bruins after spending five seasons as head coach of the Bruins’ AHL affiliate in Providence.
In Cassidy’s two seasons in Grand Rapids, he coached such notable NHLers as Jason Spezza, Chris Neil and Chris Kelly, not to mention notorious goon Marty McSorely in his last season of professional hockey. In an interesting twist of fate, Cassidy also coached Todd Nelson, current coach of the Griffins.