When Bruce Cassidy was let go as head coach of the Boston Bruins, one of the biggest critiques of his coaching style was how harsh he was on players. There were many stories from Bruins, especially younger players, that they never felt they could please the coach.
In Vegas, it’s not hard to get a sense of where that criticism comes from. Cassidy’s blunt honesty with the media can come across as a bit harsh when directed at a specific player. And, if he’s saying it publicly, there’s a pretty good chance he’s telling them directly too.
There have been multiple examples of Cassidy asking for more consistency out of Paul Cotter, he’s mentioned Phil Kessel’s defensive shortcomings in more than one press conference, and then there was the notorious “Plan E” comment about Michael Amadio getting the place on a line with Mark Stone and Chandler Stephenson.
Cassidy said it was more about Kessel not getting it done on the top line than it was Amadio earning the right to go up. Called him "Plan E" behind Eichel Howden Cotter and Kessel as they search for answers.
He added Kessel hasn't given as much of a 200 foot game as the others.
— SinBin.vegas (@SinBinVegas) December 20, 2022
Obviously, Cassidy’s straightforward approach has resonated with the Golden Knights as it led to each and every one of them seeing their names engraved on the Stanley Cup.
A story shared by Gary Lawless on the VGK Radio Network during the 2nd period of Tuesday night’s game is a strong example of why.
We’ve heard players tell stories about how Bruce would be chirping at Michael (Amadio) on the bench in the beginning of the season and finally, one of the veterans turned around to him and said ‘Hey, leave him alone. Pick on me, pick on somebody else.’ Bruce said afterward, ‘You know maybe they think I’m going to be mad because they yelled back at me. No. It shows they’re a team, they are looking after one of the younger guys. I like that. It lets me know they are coming together.’ -Lawless on VGK Radio Network
It’s an interesting glimpse into not only Cassidy’s coaching style, but also the togetherness of the Golden Knights as a team. No matter how established you are in the league, clapping back at a coach in defense of a young player bouncing in and out of the lineup is a gutsy move.
There’s always a debate over what comes first, team chemistry or winning. Obviously, after winning the Stanley Cup together, chemistry in the Golden Knights locker room is at an all-time high. However, this story of a veteran sticking up for Amadio shows that bond goes back long before they won their 16th playoff game.