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How Capitals Connect To Golden Knights Hiring Of Bruce Cassidy



Former Capitals coach Bruce Cassidy

The Vegas Golden Knights are bringing in Bruce Cassidy as their third head coach in franchise history, and the Washington Capitals share a unqiue connection to the hiring.

George McPhee, who served as the Capitals general manager from 1997 to 2014, is now the president of hockey operations in Vegas. Back during his D.C. tenure, McPhee brought in Cassidy as the new Washington coach in 2002-03. Cassidy coached 110 games for the Capitals, going 47-47-9-7 for a .500 points percentage. Washington moved on from Cassidy just 28 games into the 2003-04 season after going 8-18-1-1.

Cassidy returned to the NHL when he took over as the head coach for the Boston Bruins in 2016-17. He led Boston to the Stanley Cup Final in 2019 and was considered by many as a “player’s coach.” He went 245-108-46 (.672) over six years with the Bruins and qualified for the postseason each year.

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This past season, Boston finished fourth in the Atlantic with a 51-26-5 record. However, after a first-round exit at the hands of the Carolina Hurricanes, Don Sweeney chose to move on from Cassidy in a rather shocking decision.

“Young or old, I think there is a message delivery that I think a new voice will resonate with them,” the Bruins GM told reporters. “I felt that both the message and how it was being delivered and more importantly maybe how it was being received, you know, young and old. And that’s where I reference both younger and older players and taking ownership of it as I would. And I do with where our roster’s at, and the changes that I ultimately have to make. I think the players, you know, felt there were very well-prepared, but at times, young and old, they struggled. And sometimes, that’s the voice. That’s in their head. And I think, ultimately, I had to make a decision that takes us in a different path.”

Cassidy wasn’t at all pleased with the decision, saying that he hadn’t expected the move at all. In fact, after he left his exit interview confident that his job was safe and he would return for 2022-23.

The Golden Knights brought in Cassidy just eight days after his firing. Vegas has been looking for a coach since relieving head coach Pete DeBoer of his duties after one season at the helm. Gerard Gallant was the franchise’s first coach before Vegas moved on from him after two years. Vegas finished fourth in the Pacific Division and barely missed the playoffs, going 47-31-8. It marked the first time the team missed out on the postseason.