BOSTON — It were years since that fateful playoff sport when Calle Johansson bumped into Bruce Cassidy once more, any animosity lengthy long past. As trainer of the Washington Capitals in 2003, Cassidy had infamously benched Johansson throughout the postseason, in what was once in the long run the preferred defenseman’s closing sport with the crew. Johansson was once understandably livid on the time, however he didn’t be expecting that historical past to return up as the 2 males began catching up in a press field. It was once Cassidy who then sought after to say sorry.
“I mentioned, ‘Bruce, you don’t have to do this. I actually recognize you doing it, however you don’t must as a result of I don’t have a grudge in opposition to you or the rest,’ ” Johansson recalled. “We talked for roughly 15 mins after that, and that was once it, it was once all forgotten. After we met the following time after that, it was once like not anything ever took place.
“I feel it’s a really perfect tale, and for him to return up and say sorry to me for doing what he did that closing sport, it’s massive. It’s actually large. He had no reason why to do it and he didn’t must do it, however he did, and I feel that displays what a category man he’s.”
Fourteen years prior to Cassidy was once promoted to go trainer of the Boston Bruins within the wake of Claude Julien’s dismissal in 2017, he was once arguably some of the worst coaches in Capitals franchise historical past. Cassidy’s tenure in Washington lasted simply 15 months, fired 28 video games into the 2003-04 season with stories of ways he mishandled the locker room spilling into the media. Nevertheless it was once that disastrous first stint that made Cassidy higher for this a success moment one, guiding the Bruins again to the Stanley Cup finals the place they’ll host the St. Louis Blues for Recreation 1 on Monday evening.
“I feel it’s simply the growing old procedure,” Cassidy mentioned. “You be told in 15 years. If you wish to get again, you’ve were given to do issues otherwise, take what you probably did smartly, be told what you didn’t do smartly. A part of that was once how I communicated my message. I’ve realized to be higher with it. Avid gamers are extra receptive to it now than they have been then, so disgrace on me. However that’s how it is going. Right here we’re and optimistically I proceed the place I’m.
“I’m positive I will be able to once more subsequent 12 months and the 12 months after that and the 12 months after that. It’s simply how it is going on this trade. So, that’s more than likely the largest factor. A lot more relaxed in my very own pores and skin is a time period I’d use individually and career-wise and I feel it’s made a distinction.”
On the time he was once employed by way of the Capitals in 2002, Cassidy was once 37, the second-youngest trainer within the league, without a prior enjoy. Johansson was once 35 that season, and whilst he and his new trainer didn’t get alongside, he additionally mentioned he “felt more or less dangerous” for Cassidy, passed a veteran crew that was once firstly of what would develop into a rebuild. In Cassidy’s first on-ice assembly with avid gamers at coaching camp, he had his follow plan jotted down on a serviette. That tale, along side a number of different circumstances of unprofessionalism, corresponding to routine circumstances of tardiness, have been later leaked to The Publish by way of an nameless former Capitals participant.
Some practices ran greater than 90 mins, which is unparalleled by way of as of late’s requirements, and after one loss, he reportedly made references to avid gamers now not the usage of pregnant other halves and in poor health youngsters as an excuse for deficient play. All the way through that ultimate playoff sport in opposition to the Tampa Bay Lightning in 2003, Cassidy informed Johansson to battle, which the latter refused as a result of that had by no means been a part of his sport, and Cassidy benched Johansson in reaction. “As a teammate, all folks have been like, it is a shaggy dog story,” former goaltender Olie Kolzig mentioned. Johansson opted in opposition to re-signing with the Capitals after the incident, even though he mentioned that call wasn’t associated with Cassidy.
“I’m now not pronouncing this as a result of I used to be some of the older avid gamers, however I feel he must have talked to the avid gamers just a little extra when he got here in as a substitute of seeking to run the display up to he did,” Johansson mentioned.
“The loss of professionalism more or less stuck as much as him his moment 12 months,” Kolzig mentioned. “There was once some feedback made in crew conferences that rubbed some avid gamers the mistaken approach and sadly were given out to the media. We underachieved as a crew that 12 months, however there have been some issues at the back of the scenes that I feel actually in the long run were given him fired. However having mentioned all that, I’ve run into him a variety of occasions through the years — I’d all the time see him up within the press field and we’d communicate — and it’s essential to see that he’s without a doubt modified.”
Kolzig mentioned Cassidy’s lifestyles off the ice on the time, which integrated “a messy divorce,” may have contributed to his habits across the crew. Cassidy reputedly alluded to that, too: “Higher steadiness in my lifestyles total makes you just a little extra affected person with avid gamers as smartly,” he mentioned Sunday. Former Capitals avid gamers stated it was once glaring that Cassidy knew the sport smartly, however then he struggled with how one can be in contact that to the crew. He were given some other head training alternative in 2011, when he was once promoted with the Bruins’ American Hockey League associate in Windfall.
“It’s been seven years in the past I performed for him in Windfall and he was once, clearly, now not as mature as he’s as of late, however extraordinarily hard on his avid gamers,” Boston defenseman Tory Krug mentioned. “He expects excellence and holds his personal crew to a better same old than somebody else across the league.
“I feel the way in which he’s controlled the bench, to me, has been the largest distinction. He’s a particularly emotional man. He can yell and scream slightly just a little and every so often guys flip round and so they’re like, ‘What’s happening right here?’ Then, he can notice how one can put issues in viewpoint and notice what he has to do.”
As unprepared as Cassidy may were for his first NHL alternative, he badly sought after a moment one and questioned if it could ever come. He’d had 14 years to believe what he’d do otherwise.
“On the finish of the day, the danger got here and I sought after to be sure that I took merit,” Cassidy mentioned. “I feel I used to be in a position for it when it took place and rancid we went.”