If you haven’t yet had a chance to listen to the Bruce Cassidy interview conducted this morning on 98.5’s Toucher & Rich Show, stop what you’re doing and devote your next 19 minutes to one of the more candid engagements in radio format that you’ll hear from an NHL coach, period.
This is vintage Cassidy- in my dealings with him, he’s always taken extra time to go into the details of what makes a player successful or why he’s not performing to a level capable. Cassidy is a true student of the game and he won’t sugarcoat things. If someone plays well (he once went into an extended commentary about Brian Ferlin that timed out at more than 3 minutes- it’s a shame injuries- a concussion and major knee injury have derailed his development in Boston.) he says so. If someone isn’t holding up their end of things, or their play doesn’t warrant a key role in the lineup, he says so. And, he does it by giving the listener more details and a rationale that you don’t always get from bench bosses who will speak cryptically and in clichés more often than not.
But one of the more telling aspects of this interview was when he talked about his hatred of the Montreal Canadiens. This goes back to his childhood, where he was a huge fan of Bobby Orr and the Big, Bad Bruins- for him to connect with the average Boston fan who is old enough to remember that annual spring heartbreak at the hands of Les Habitants was the kind of soundbite that people in PR and marketing can truly appreciate. Whether they knew a lot about him or not so much…whether fans were pro-Claude Julien or anti-Cassidy…whether they were in a wait-and-see mode…a brief 30-second segment of a larger 19-minute interview that covered myriad topics achieved one important thing with a lot of people today- it connected the new coach with the fanbase. Right now, there are people who listened to that and come away with one important lesson- “he is one of us.”
In this age of slick presentations, conservative approaches rife with clichés and safe-speak when it comes to news conferences, Cassidy knocked it out of the park. And as has been said here before- covering him in his years as Providence Bruins head coach and when he would do the summer development camp with the team’s prospects, he’s always been this way. He’s never been afraid to peel the onion back much further than many of his peers do- certainly Julien when it comes to articulating what the issues and challenges are.
Watch the interview. It may or may not change your opinion of the 28th head coach, but if nothing else- you’ll have a hard time denying the fact that you come out of it having learned more about the Bruins and what could be next than you did going in.
I don’t know that we can say that about every coach who engages with the media, can we?