By Kevin Flanagan
BSD Bruins Senior Staff Writer
The Bruins Saturday night come from behind 5-4 overtime victory over the Minnesota Wild is one of those games that championship teams look back upon and point to as a moment when they established their identity.
Two goals in the final two minutes of play by a key veteran leader in David Krejci – both while their net was vacated for an extra skater – and a Bobby Orr-esque end to end rush by the returning Torey Krug to post the game-winner is the type of moment that builds trust among teammates that they can call upon when the stakes are their highest in the spring.
“Those are moments that bring a team together throughout a season. And that group of guys that was on the ice takes a lot of pride in being those guys that make things happen,” said Krug, who made the most of his return after missing five games with an upper-body ailment.
“But to come back and celebrate at the bench with those guys and see how excited they are, you know that’s a special thing as well. So those are moments that bring a group together and we’ll try to embrace it.”
It should come as no surprise, however, that head coach Bruce Cassidy’s club continued to fight until the final whistle. If there is one thing that has been a common thread he has woven into the tightknit bunch he stands behind on a nightly basis during games can be summed up in one word.
It is a well-known fact that he was an abject failure the first time he was given the opportunity to be the lead guy behind an NHL bench. He is the first to admit he was both parts intimidated and ill-prepared to succeed in the position, especially with the veteran-laden team he inherited in Washington with the Capitals in 2002.
His top-heavy lineup included proven stars such as Jaromir Jagr, Robert Lang, Sergei Gonchar, Peter Bondra and Michael Nylander. At 37 years old and having little more than a cup of coffee due to injuries with the Chicago Blackhawks, the former offensive-first defenseman had little cache when it came to his time in the league.
After being fired just 25 games into his second season, it would take the reigning NHL’s Coach of the Year nearly a decade and a half of rebuilding his resume to once again get behind the bench at the games highest level.
And he did it by – you guessed it – being resilient.
Prior to the start of the Stanley Cup Final against the St. Louis Blues last spring, Cassidy addressed his failed first go around as a head coach.
“ All I’ve learned is I’m more comfortable in my own skin than I was [in Washington]”, said the man his players call Butch.
“I was young. I had really no NHL experience. I was in Chicago for bits and pieces. So you walk into an NHL locker room and there’s still a little bit of awe in that, ‘Oh, there’s (Jaromir) Jagr,’ there’s so many of these guys that have been around. So, it probably took me a while to just walk in there and say ‘This is what we’re doing’…and be a good communicator when you’re doing that.”
Now, not only is he looked upon as one of the best head coaches in the league, he has found a way to have his team by into his belief that success isn’t strictly about talent, hard work, and the wiliness to fight back when times are tough are equally important.
While it is true that the Bruins are considered legitimate Cup contenders due to the names on their roster, the fact that they have embraced the dogged determination of their leader speaks volumes about his impact on their success.
Saturday night’s improbable win is just the latest example of that.