Former Ice player, coach Cassidy returns to bench tonight

Bruce Cassidy was a mainstay with the Indianapolis Ice as a player and a coach throughout the team’s 11-year run in the International Hockey League.

Bruce Cassidy hoists the Turner Cup in 1990.

Tonight, he returns to the NHL bench as a head coach, when the Boston Bruins meet the San Jose Sharks. He was named interim head coach of the Bruins on Tuesday, after the team fired longtime head coach Claude Julien.

Cassidy had been an assistant with the Bruins this season. Prior to that, he Cassidy has been the head coach of the AHL’s Providence Bruins for five seasons, and has been in the organization for eight years.

Cassidy was a key part of the Ice’s run, joining the team in the 1989-90 season. As a defenseman, he helped lead the Ice to the 1990 Turner Cup championship, including an incredible 12-2 record in the playoffs. Cassidy then returned to the team in 1994 as a player and played parts of three seasons. He left during the 1996-97 season to become a coach in the ECHL. He returned to Indianapolis in 1998 to coach the Ice’s final IHL season. He had 97 points in 170 games with the Ice, and in 1999, coached the team to its first postseason series victory since the Turner Cup championship nine years before.

Cassidy was the Washington Capitals’ head coach from 2002-04, and was also an assistant with the Chicago Blackhawks in 2005-06. After a brief stint as a head coach in the Ontario Hockey League, he joined the Providence Bruins as an assistant in 2008 and became their head coach in 2011.

He becomes the fifth NHL head coach to have played or coached in Indianapolis, joining two-time Stanley Cup champion Darryl Sutter (Los Angeles), who was Cassidy’s coach on the 1990 Turner Cup team. He also joins former Checker Peter Laviolette (Nashville), former Ice player Dave Hakstol (Philadelphia) and former Indiana Ice coach Jeff Blashill (Detroit). Blashill also won a championship in Indy, having coached the 2009 USHL Clark Cup champions. A key defenseman on that team was Torey Krug, who will be suiting up for the Bruins tonight.

Cassidy also becomes the 14th coach in the three tiers of affiliated pro hockey to have played or coached in Indianapolis. There are three in the AHL – former Checkers Kurt Kleinendorst (Iowa) and Roy Sommer (San Jose), as well as former Ice captain Ryan Huska (Stockton). In the ECHL, the Indy Fuel are led by former CHL Ice captain Bernie John. The Adirondack Thunder are led by Cail MacLean, who  played for Cassidy on the 1998-99 Ice. Mike Duco, the Fuel’s first captain, is coaching the Elmira Jackals.

The Bruins also have a number of other connections to Indianapolis. On the ice, Zionsville native John-Michael Liles joins Krug on the blueline. Former Ice players Brian Ferlin and Sean Kuraly are currently in the organization and have played in Boston. Former IHL Ice players Adam Creighton and Dean Malkoc are on the Bruins’ scouting staff.