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One year later: Did the Bruins err in firing Bruce Cassidy?

It's not as simple as saying the Bruins would have beat the Florida Panthers with Cassidy still behind the bench.

BOSTON — On June 6, 2022, Bruce Cassidy was fired as head coach of the Boston Bruins.

One year later, he's two wins away from winning a Stanley Cup as head coach of the Vegas Golden Knights.

Meanwhile, his old team has been out of the playoffs for well over a month after being bounced in the first round by the Florida Panthers, the eventual Eastern Conference champions.

There's been all kinds chatter in regards to whether the Bruins would have been more successful in the postseason if Cassidy was still behind the bench.

The thing is, though, the Bruins put together the best regular season in NHL history under new head coach Jim Montgomery, and there's no guarantee the Bruins are anywhere near the top seed without the coaching change.

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At the time of Cassidy's dismissal, Bruins general manager Don Sweeney said his team simply needed a new voice behind the bench: "I just felt that the messaging and the voice that was going to be required, I felt that we needed a new direction."

And when Montgomery was hired, Sweeney said "throughout the interview process (Jim) conveyed his ability to connect with all types of players while also demanding that his teams play with structure."

Without a change behind the bench, perhaps Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci decide not to come back. Maybe Jake DeBrusk doesn't rescind his trade request and Trent Frederic doesn't break out with 17 goals in limited ice time.

What we know is in his first season, Montgomery helped lead the Bruins to the Presidents' Trophy after finishing the regular season with a 65-12-5 record for 135 points, setting new NHL records for single-season points and wins.

In addition to leading the league in points and wins, the Bruins also ranked first in the NHL in regulation wins (54), road wins (31), goals allowed per game (2.12), penalty kill percentage (87.3) and goal differential (plus-128).

Yes, they flamed out in the playoffs way too early and Montgomery made some questionable decisions in the series against the Panthers. But, we know Cassidy also lost a big Game 7 back in 2019, not to mention last season's first round loss to the Carolina Hurricanes.

It's likely things don't play out as they did in the regular season with Cassidy behind the bench in Boston, so it's not linear to argue things would have been different against Florida. 

Both he and the Bruins benefitted from the move, and Montgomery will (likely) win the Jack Adams as the NHL's top coach day after Cassidy (likely) wins the Cup.

It's a win-win overall, although the Bruins sure would have loved to have been the team going up against the Golden Knights in the Final.

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