3 best candidates to be next Boston head coach

The Boston Bruins shocked the hockey world when they announced the departure of head coach Bruce Cassidy. Their former coach has since moved on, taking over with the Vegas Golden Knights, but Boston remains without a head coach.

With the Stanley Cup playoffs now being over, the team can finally interview every possible candidate for the position. This is where the work truly begins for recently extended general manager Don Sweeney.

The Bruins are looking to get over the hump, so to speak. They went to the Stanley Cup Finals in 2019 but lost to a team of destiny in the St. Louis Blues. They haven’t been close to the finals since.

With an aging roster and a closing championship window, it is imperative the Bruins make the correct choice with this hiring. Bringing the wrong voice into the locker room could slam their window shut prematurely.

Let’s look at three of the best candidates for the Bruins vacancy, what they bring to the team, and what experience they could lean on to best perform in this role.

3 best candidates to be next Boston Bruins head coach

1) Jeff Halpern

We start with an assistant from the Tampa Bay Lightning. Halpern’s Bolts are coming off a loss to the Colorado Avalanche in the Stanley Cup Finals. He was on the staff for the team’s Cup victories in 2020 and 2021. He has yet to interview with the Bruins, as the Finals were still underway.

The 46-year-old cut his teeth in the coaching world with the Lightning’s AHL affiliate Syracuse Crunch. Prior to coaching, he spent 14 years in the NHL as a player.

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He scored 152 goals and 373 points in 976 regular-season games. He played for the Lightning, Washington Capitals, Arizona Coyotes, Dallas Stars, Los Angeles Kings, New York Rangers, and Montreal Canadiens.

And that playing experience is something Halpern can draw from in this role. He knows the grind better than most coaches in the league. He understands what each of these players is going through on a day-to-day basis. That’s an invaluable insight to have.

Furthermore, the 46-year-old knows what it takes to win as a coach in the league. He’s worked directly with possibly the best coaching staff in the league. While he may not have experience running his own program, he can draw from his time under Jon Cooper to help him build his own style of hockey.

2) David Quinn

Quinn has been floated as a candidate for the Detroit Red Wings previously, but he’d also fit with the Bruins. This would be Quinn’s second run as a head coach in the NHL, having previously been behind the bench for the New York Rangers.

Quinn has been interviewed for the position, according to Joe McDonald of The Worcester Telegraph & Gazette, He is considered one of the frontrunners for the position.

The 55-year-old Rhode Island native has experience at multiple levels as a head coach. Prior to the Rangers job, Quinn held the top spot with Boston University, as well as the AHL’s Lake Erie Monsters.

It’s that experience that can make Quinn a good fit for the Bruins. Especially given the team’s desire to compete right away. Are they willing to let a rookie NHL coach figure himself out and risk a down year in 2022-23?

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It can also be argued that Quinn laid the groundwork for the Rangers’ success this season, as well. He helped cultivate a number of younger players who have gone on to have a ton of success. Namely defenseman Adam Fox, who has become one of the better young defensemen in the league.

He may not be the most popular hire, but it’s hard to argue with Quinn’s ability and track record for success. Give him an experienced roster, and he may be able to help the Bruins take the next step.

3) Jay Leach

Like Halpern, Leach has experience playing at the NHL level. However, his experience doesn’t quite match up to Halpern’s. Leach played a total of 70 games in the league, two of which with the Bruins.

The 42-year-old began his coaching career with Adler Mannheim in Germany. He came back to the States and joined the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins’ coaching staff in 2015.

A year later, he was named head coach of the Providence Bruins, a position he held until July 2021 when he joined the Seattle Kraken’s coaching staff.

Leach knows the Bruins organization better than either Quinn or Halpern, and that may give him an inside edge. While a clear step above the Providence job, his understanding of what Sweeney is looking for out of his players, and the style of hockey he wants to see, gives Leach the ability to install a familiar system that can be smoothly implemented.

The 42-year-old Leach has interviewed for the job, according to McDonald, and would be a smart hire for Sweeney as he looks to gain back a bit of the goodwill lost from the fans in firing Cassidy.

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