Mike Loftus, the longtime Boston Bruins beat writer for the Quincy Patriot Ledger, has reported that general manager Peter Chiarelli will settle on his new American League coach whilst wrapping up this weekend’s NHL draft on Saturday.
Assuming Chiarelli follows through on that, he will end a 10-week wait for the word on who replaces Rob Murray, who was discharged after three seasons behind the Providence bench and on the heels of two straight Calder Cup playoff no-shows.
The most logical move would be to simply elevate Murray’s assistant, Bruce Cassidy, to the head coaching position. After all, that was how Murray, predecessor Scott Gordon’s sidekick for five years, claimed the job when Gordon accepted an offer to lead the New York Islanders in August 2008.
Although it is a far less plausible scenario, Craig Ramsay’s recent release from the NHL’s new Winnipeg franchise is bound to have at least a few Bruins Buffs speculating his return to the organization. Ramsay was the topmost assistant during Claude Julien’s first three years in Boston before he was lured to the Atlanta Thrashers last summer, granting him his first head coaching gig since a one-year stint in Philadelphia (2001-02).
On the one hand, in addition to those years in Atlanta and Philadelphia, Ramsay has 16 solid seasons of experience as an NHL assistant. That could make for a viable AHL head-coach candidate.
By the same token, though, such a lengthy run in The Show makes Ramsay an enticing choice to fill a void on another NHL staff, of which there are plenty.
For the P-Bruins, some of whose fans questioned the reasoning behind Murray’s dismissal, Cassidy is a more sensible choice for every reason. He has a sliver of NHL coaching experience with the Washington Capitals, who ultimately fired him in December 2003 after he had only logged 107 games.
But that was not before he guided the Grand Rapids Griffins to the best regular-season record in the final year of the IHL, then won the Louis A.R. Pieri Award in the Griffins’ first AHL campaign in 2001-02.
One could argue that Murray, whose first season as head coach saw Tuukka Rask backstop the P-Bruins to the Calder Cup semifinals, did not deserve the fall guy tag when Providence plummeted.
But in a sense, forking Murray out of the locker room in favor of Cassidy could be akin to benching an overcooked goalie even when the opposing onslaught is due to defensive breakdowns. A slight change in personnel positioning is simply needed to wake up the rest of the squad.