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Five candidates the Bruins could explore to replace Bruce Cassidy

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The Bruins are not interested in the old guard – Mike Babcock, Peter DeBoer, Paul Maurice, John Tortorella, as examples – replacing Bruce Cassidy. As hard as they worked, it’s unlikely that assistants Joe Sacco, Kevin Dean or Chris Kelly will be front-line candidates.

The Bruins want a new presence and a fresh thinker to take over the bench.

President Cam Neely and general manager Don Sweeney identified two areas of deficiency under Cassidy’s watch: optimal player performance, especially that of younger ones, and five-on-five offensive production.

To management, the former was more troubling than the latter.

The 57-year-old Cassidy had high demands of young players. He believed in fair but firm guidance until NHL principles became second nature for youngsters. This troubled Jake DeBrusk to the degree that the 2015 first-rounder made his desire to leave quite clear. There may have been others who were not as public with their requests.

Neely and Sweeney, then, will hire a coach who will be more aligned with their preferences for greater freedom to play and supportive development. Here are five that fit the profile, starting with the odds-on favorite.

Jay Leach

Leach, 42, is the leading candidate. He checks all the boxes.

Leach was Providence’s head coach for four seasons before serving as Dave Hakstol’s assistant in Seattle in 2021-22. In Providence, Leach preached growth mindset, development and positivity. Leach helped Anton Blidh, Connor Clifton, Trent Frederic, Karson Kuhlman, Jeremy Lauzon, Jeremy Swayman and Jakub Zboril become permanent NHL players. He had Kuhlman and Lauzon in Seattle this past season.

Leach served as the right-hand man to former Bruins assistant coach Geoff Ward for Germany’s Adler Mannheim in 2014-15. Ward and Leach helped the team win the DEL championship.

Leach returned to North America to be Mike Sullivan’s assistant in Wilkes-Barre / Scranton in 2015-16. The following season, the Bruins hired Leach to be Kevin Dean’s assistant in Providence.

Management is familiar with Leach. Perhaps the former defenseman, who appeared in two games for the Bruins in 2006-07, can help Frederic, Jack Studnicka and Oskar Steen gain greater NHL footholds.

“He’s going to be a great coach,” said one NHL source who has known Leach for decades.

David Quinn

Quinn, 55, is hungry for another NHL opportunity after being dismissed by the Rangers. Quinn coached Team USA in the 2022 Olympics after the NHL pulled out of the Winter Games.

The Rangers did not qualify for the playoffs in two of Quinn’s three seasons. Before that, Quinn was at Boston University for five seasons as Jack Parker’s replacement. He coached Matt Grzelcyk for three seasons and Charlie McAvoy for two. Both Bruins defensemen enjoyed their time playing for Quinn.

Quinn is an outgoing and personable coach. He is acquaintances with Sweeney.

Ryan Mougenel

Mougenel, 46, concluded his first season as Leach’s replacement in Providence. Before that, Mougenel was Leach’s assistant for two seasons. He was in charge of Providence’s defense when assisting Leach.

Mougenel is similar to Leach: positive and enthusiastic. Players, including veterans like John Moore, were appreciative of Mougenel’s hands-on style. This past season, Moore noted he reviewed clips of himself with Mougenel from past years. The two went over what made Moore an effective NHL defenseman.

Mougenel is short on experience compared to Leach.

Nate Leaman

Leaman, 49, finished his 11th season as Providence College’s head coach. He does not have professional coaching experience. But Leaman is one of the NCAA’s most accomplished coaches.

In 2014-15, Leaman led the Friars to the NCAA championship. Providence beat Quinn’s BU team in the final. Noel Acciari, Leaman’s captain that season, signed with the Bruins.

Before Providence, Leaman was the head coach at Union for eight seasons. He was an assistant at Harvard, Sweeney’s alma mater, for four seasons.

Leaman participated in one of the Bruins’ offseason development camps as a consulting coach.

Spencer Carbery

Carbery, 40, finished his first season as an assistant to Sheldon Keefe in Toronto. In 2017-18, Carbery served as Leach’s assistant in Providence. After one year, he was hired to be Hershey’s head coach. He was with the Bears for three seasons.

Carbery worked with the defensemen in Providence. In Toronto, Carbery was in charge of the power play.

(Photo of Jay Leach: Christopher Mast / NHLI via Getty Images)

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