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Bruins make multiple changes to coaching staff

June 13, 2024, 6:03 PM ET [1 Comments]
Ty Anderson
Boston Bruins Blogger •Bruins Feature Columnist • RSSArchiveCONTACT
The Bruins entered the offseason not expecting to make any changes to their coaching staff.

But a coaching change in Seattle opened the door to a reunion the Bruins simply couldn't miss out on, with Jay Leach brought back to the organization, this time as an assistant coach on Jim Montgomery's staff, according to B's general manager Don Sweeney.

Leach, who had been an assistant for the Kraken for the last three years, spent five years with the P-Bruins prior to his departure for Seattle, including four as Providence's head coach.

“The Boston Bruins are excited to welcome Jay Leach back to the organization,” Sweeney said in a statement confirming the addition. “Jay was a very successful coach with the Providence Bruins where he greatly impacted our player development system, and he also brings valuable experience as an assistant coach from the Seattle Kraken.

"We believe Jay will integrate quickly and complement our current staff as he comes back to the Bruins to work with our defense corps.”

In Seattle for the past three seasons, the 44-year-old Leach was in charge of the Kraken’s defense. That defense really became Seattle’s calling card following their inaugural season, too, as they limited shots and chances against, while countless players blossomed and took notable steps under Leach’s tutelage. It was also enough for Leach to earn multiple head coaching interviews during his time in Seattle, including an interview with the Bruins before the club hired Montgomery in 2022. Most recently, Leach was in the running for Seattle’s head coaching gig before the club opted to go with the veteran Dan Bylsma instead.

In Providence, Leach compiled a 136-77-26 record, and was instrumental in development of defensemen and NHL regulars such as Connor Clifton and Jeremy Lauzon, and was the head coach for the Providence tenure of types like Trent Frederic and Jakub Lauko.

Bringing Leach and his defensive acumen back into the fold now comes at an interesting time for the Bruins, with Mason Lohrei expected to be a full-time member of the NHL roster, and with players such as Parker Wotherspoon and Andrew Peeke looking to truly cement themselves as go-to members of the Boston defense after solid showings for the Black and Gold last season.

“I’m thrilled to have Jay Leach join our coaching staff,” Montgomery said. “Jay has an impressive track record at both the AHL and NHL level, and his experience connecting with players will greatly benefit our team.”

Leach’s return to the organization will also come with a promotion for Joe Sacco, as the veteran B’s assistant will be the Black and Gold’s associate coach for the 2024-25 season. Sacco’s promotion comes after a season that saw him drop back to running the B’s defense and power play following the offseason departure of John Gruden for a post with AHL Toronto.

“I’d like to congratulate Joe Sacco on his promotion to associate coach,” Montgomery said. “Joe has been an integral part of this staff due to his experience and the passion he brings to our group every day.”

Sacco, who has been in the running for head coaching jobs elsewhere and with the B’s organization since Claude Julien’s days as a head coach, will now be the second-leading voice behind Montgomery on Boston’s staff.

Leach’s addition and Sacco’s promotion, as well as the retention of assistant coach Chris Kelly, will come with one other change to the coaching staff, with John McLean transitioning to a development role as the club’s skating and skills coach after serving as Boston’s ‘eye in the sky’ assistant coach a season ago.

“John is shifting back to a skating and skill development position where he will remain integrated with our current staff as well as broaden his scope to work with our entire player development system,” Sweeney said. “John was instrumental working with our medical staff on players returning from injury, and his experience as an assistant coach this season will provide great insights to young players throughout our organization to understand the individual work that is required to develop as a Bruin.”

One interesting part of all of this is that Montgomery is entering the final year of his current contract as the B’s head coach, has yet to hammer out an extension with the club, and the Bruins now have two guys behind him who could conceivably be his replacements should things go south in 2024-25. Not only that, but they’re both guys that the Bruins interviewed before going with Montgomery back in 2022, and the Bruins even got a taste of Sacco as a head coach during Bruce Cassidy’s COVID absence during the 2021-22 season.

This will become a legitimate storyline, too, should the Bruins and Montgomery fail to come to terms on an extension ahead of the 2024-25 season, as the B’s tend to handle these things early.
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