With Bruce Cassidy gone as head coach, Kevin Dean as an Assistant Coach moving on and Kim Brandvold as Skills and Skating Coach moving on as an Assistant, and Joe Sacco reportedly interviewing for the Head Coaching position with the San Jose Sharks, there were bound to be some new faces joining the Organization.
Jim Montgomery has replaced Cassidy as the Head Coach. Danielle Marmer will do most of the heavy lifting in Brandvold’s absence. And now John Gruden has been hired to fill the vacancy left by Dean’s departure in coaching the Bruins defence.
Gruden was drafted by the Bruins in the eighth-round way back at the 1990 NHL Entry Draft. I know some fans have referred to this signing as sticking with the “old boy’s club” but let’s be serious here: That was 32 years ago and he only spent parts of four seasons with the Bruins.
The hiring of Gruden is based on merit and merit alone.
Gruden began his coaching during the 2005-2006 season coaching High School hockey. He spent two seasons with Brother Rice High before moving on to coach Stoney Creek High for three seasons. From there he spent one season coaching Oakland Jr Grizzlies U-14.
Before the 2011-2012 season, Gruden moved on to become an Assistant Coach with the USNTDP and spent four seasons with the National Team. During his tenure with the USNTDP he was an Assistant Coach with Team USA at the WHC U-17 twice as well as the WJC U-18 twice. In those four tournaments, the US captured two gold medals and a bronze medal.
Gruden instantly gained a reputation as a player’s coach. Perhaps the most telling tale of that came during the 2015-2016 season when he was named Head Coach of the Flint Firebirds of the OHL. To use a phrase Wayne Gretzky once used to describe the New Jersey Devils, the Firebirds were a “Mickey Mouse operation” at the time embroiled in controversy after controversy. Ownership fired Gruden but the players stuck with their head coach and refused to play until he was re-instated. And he was. Now that’s loyalty.
Gruden only spent one season with the Firebirds but his coaching did not go unnoticed. The Hamilton Bulldogs, also of the OHL hired Gruden to be their bench boss the next season. The Bulldogs finished the first year under Gruden with a 33-27-8 record. But during the 2017-2018 season he led the Bulldogs to the second-best record in the OHL with 43-18-7 record. The Bulldogs would go onto win the OHL Championship.
Simply put, Gruden has helped produce a winner at every level and the New York Islanders took notice of his abilities and gave him an Assistant Coaching position that lasted four seasons beginning with the 2018-2019 season.
Gruden will be responsible for the blueliners in Boston just like he was with the Islanders. And any hockey fan will tell you he did an admirable job with them.
Welcome to Boston John!
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