Bruce Cassidy is in his fourth season with the Providence Bruins and entering his first as the team’s head coach. Known to many as “Butch”, the 46-year-old Cassidy has 15 years of career coaching experience, highlighted by a stint as head coach of the National Hockey League’s Washington Capitals from 2002-04. Cassidy’s coaching resume is a lengthy one, having served as a head or assistant coach at a variety of levels from the NHL to the Ontario Hockey League.
An Ottawa, Ontario, native, Cassidy began his junior-level playing days in the OHL for his hometown team, the Ottawa 67’s, during the 1982-83 season. The former defenseman’s best season was his very first as he paced the 67’s with 86 assists in 70 games and finished second for the club’s overall scoring lead with 111 points. The next season, after being selected 18th overall by the Chicago Blackhawks in the first round of the 1983 NHL Entry Draft, Cassidy made his NHL debut as an 18-year-old, appearing in one game for Chicago and spending the rest of the year with Ottawa. He once again finished second on the 67’s in scoring but the regular season later proved to be an afterthought as Ottawa went on to win a Memorial Cup championship in 1984 over the Kitchener Rangers with Cassidy notching an impressive 22 points (6g, 16a) in just 13 playoff games. His final junior season with Ottawa was in 1984-85 when he appeared in only 38 games in what was the first of three straight years cut short by knee surgeries.
From 1985 to 1990, Cassidy played mainly in Chicago’s system, seeing time with the Hawks and their affiliates, the Nova Scotia Oilers of the American Hockey League and the International Hockey League’s Saginaw Generals, Saginaw Hawks and Indianapolis Ice. Over those years, Cassidy appeared in 36 NHL games for Chicago, scoring four goals while adding 13 assists. His best years were in 1988-89, when he tallied 80 points for Saginaw, and 1989-90, a season highlighted by a Turner Cup championship for Indianapolis. The following three years, he played in the Italian Ice Hockey League and German Hockey League, suiting up for Alleghe HC in Italy and Kaufbeuren. In 1994-95, Cassidy returned to Indianapolis, enjoying the final three of his 12 playing seasons before retiring 10 games into the 1996-97 campaign to accept a head coaching job with the Jacksonville Lizard Kings of the ECHL. Cassidy led Jacksonville to a 15-25-10 record after it began the year 6-12-2.
Cassidy’s second season as a coach and first full year was much improved for Jacksonville as it finished 35-39-6. The following year, 1998-99, Cassidy was promoted to head coach of the team in Indianapolis for which he had played parts of four seasons. The club went 33-37-12 but advanced to the second round of the playoffs. The Ice folded after that season, leading Cassidy to take the head coaching position with the expansion Trenton Titans of the ECHL. The Titans advanced to the fourth round of the playoffs, earning Cassidy a move to the Ottawa Senators organization as head coach of the IHL’s Grand Rapids Griffins. They led the league at 53-22-7 in 2000-01 and again won a division title the next year with a 42-27-11 record, earning Cassidy the AHL’s Louis A.R. Piere Memorial Award as Coach of the Year.
The Washington Capitals took notice of Cassidy’s work in the minors and made him their head coach in 2002-03, where he led the Caps to the postseason and a regular season record of 39-29-8-6. Washington fell, however, to the eventual Stanley Cup champion, Tampa Bay, in the first round. His tenure with the Capitals ended with a record of 47-45-9-6 over parts of two seasons. Cassidy signed with Chicago in June 2004 as an assistant coach, working with the AHL’s Norfolk Admirals during the 2004-05 NHL lockout season and then the Blackhawks in 2005-06. He again became a head coach in 2006-07, guiding the OHL’s Kingston Frontenacs to a 31-30-7 mark and a trip to the playoffs. His time in Kingston concluded with a two-year record of 33-39-8, bringing his overall head coaching record to 295-253-36-37 (W-L-T/SOL-OTL) in 621 games.
Cassidy resides in Providence, Rhode Island, with his wife Julie, their daughter Shannon and son Cole.
Kevin Dean is in his first season as the assistant coach of the Providence Bruins, after spending five years as a member of the New Jersey Devils organization’s coaching staff. The 42-year-old Dean has five years coaching experience, including four seasons as an assistant coach of the Lowell Devils (AHL) and one year as head coach of the Trenton Devils (ECHL). Before he took a position behind the bench, Dean played 12 years professionally, highlighted by winning both the Calder Cup and Stanley Cup during the 1995 season.
A Madison, Wisconsin native, Dean was the New Jersey Devil’s fourth choice and the 86th overall selection in the 1987 NHL Entry Draft. Following the draft, Dean took his talents to perennial Hockey East powerhouse, the University of New Hampshire. In four years on the blue line for the Wildcats, the defenseman recorded 50 points in 131 games. Following his senior season in Durham, Dean made his professional debut with the Devil’s AHL affiliate, the Utica Devils.
After spending time between Utica, Cincinnati (ECHL) and Albany (AHL) from 1990-1994, Dean’s career took a dramatic upwards turn. The River Rats captain tallied a career-high 37 assists for 42 and was named a first-team AHL All-Star when the River Rats won the Calder Cup in 1994-95. The blueliner also received his first NHL call-up, playing in 17 regular season games for New Jersey. However, it was the three playoff games he suited up for that got his name inscribed on the Stanley Cup. The only player in the organization to be a part of both the Stanley Cup and the Calder Cup, Dean also became one of only four players to win both coveted trophies in the same season.
Dean remained in the Devils’ organization for four more seasons until he was picked up by Atlanta in the 1999 NHL Expansion Draft. He split the 1999-00 season between Atlanta, Dallas and Chicago, recording 11 points in 64 regular season games. A veteran of 12 professional seasons, Dean retired following 2000-01 season with the Milwaukee Admirals (AHL). Dean finished his professional career with 34 goals and 177 assists for 1 point.
Following a 12-year professional career, Dean hung up his skates and took a position behind the bench with the Lowell Devils in 2006 as an assistant coach under Kurt Kleinendorst. The Devils struggled for three seasons falling short of the playoffs from 2006 to 2009. In the organization’s final season before moving to Albany, head coach John MacLean and Dean led the Devils to their first winning record since the 2006-07 season.
The New Jersey offices took notice of Dean’s efforts and following the 2009-10 season, Dean was named the head coach of the Trenton Devils, the ECHL affiliate of the Albany Devils. He led the struggling team to a 27-37-0 record, falling short of the playoffs for the second consecutive year. Following the 2010-11 season, the New Jersey Devils, the owner and NHL affiliate of the Trenton club, suspended Trenton’s operations.