When the Boston Bruins coach was growing up in Ottawa, he pasted on his bedroom wall the famous photo of Bobby Orr soaring through the air after scoring the Stanley Cup-winning goal for the Bruins against the St. Louis Blues in 1970. Whenever he looked at it, it would stoke his desire to one day reach the NHL.
Almost 50 years later, Cassidy is using photos as inspiration, this time to motivate his players about their own Stanley Cup dreams.
[RELATED: Complete Bruins vs. Blues series coverage]
Throughout the Stanley Cup Playoffs, Cassidy has been including pictures and video clips of past Bruins winning the Cup as part of the prescouting package he and his coaching staff present to players. Whether it's captain Zdeno Chara accepting the Cup from NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman in 2011 or a snapshot of a famed Boston victory from decades before that, the goal is simple: making sure his players keep their eyes on the prize.
"Look, we're not trying to hide from the end goal," Cassidy said. "We've talked about the Cup in our prescout. We don't linger on it but we try to remind guys not to forget. There's a reason guys are blocking shots. There's a reason why you are taking a hit to make a play. There's a reason you are sacrificing things to make a play -- it's to win a Cup."
With Game 1 of the 2019 Stanley Cup Final at TD Garden on Monday (8 p.m. ET; NBC, CBC, SN, TVAS), Boston's third-year coach discussed which other tools he'll use to prepare the Bruins, his take on the Blues and Orr in a discussion with NHL.com this week.
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You've reached out to Bill Belichick, coach of the NFL's New England Patriots, to pick his brain. You even used one of their mottos as part of one of those prescout videos to help motivate the team. Can you fill us in?
One of the things we've said is the Patriots' saying of, "Next man up." Then you look at (defenseman) [Steven] Kampfer. We talked about that and then he came in and scored a big goal for us against Carolina when we needed to put him in the lineup (in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Final).
There are sayings our team has adopted, and we'll show footage of it. It's not a pump-up video; it's part of our prescout. Whether it has an effect or not, who knows. We've won seven in a row, so I'd like to think there's some small way when the guys are about to go out onto the ice they say: "Yeah, that's right, let's dig in a bit more."
What's it like to have Orr, the guy in that photo you drew inspiration from, actually chatting with you almost 50 years after his feat?
For me, the biggest thing is that it's an honor to be the Bruins coach and that's part of that. It's not only [Orr]. On the day his number was retired, Rick Middleton came in. Ray Bourque drops by. Bobby Orr is Bobby Orr, to me he's the greatest player in the game. It's unbelievably special for me. And especially when Bobby is around. He comes down and says hi. He's a big fan. He loves the game, he's an ambassador for the game, and he loves the Bruins. For us to make it this far, he's proud. We've made him proud. This team, this group of players, I think they've made him proud to be a Bruins alumnus. I think that's awesome.
Is it hard to believe the Blues haven't been to the Stanley Cup Final since Orr scored that goal?
I don't think of it that often. I think somewhere along the line someone brought that up. I guess I just assumed somewhere along the way they'd made it. I guess they haven't. What's that, 49 years? I'm happy for their fan base. That's about it (laughs). Certainly we want to disappoint them, I hope we do, but at the end of the day, they've hung in there, they've paid their dues and good on them for getting to this point.
How do you execute a game plan that will disappoint the Blues and their fans in the end?
I think one of the strengths of our team is how adaptable it is. I've said it all along: When we're skating and we have our legs, I think we can skate with anyone in the League. Then we also have that Big, Bad Bruins stigma on us once in a while. I think we're tough enough to certainly play that physical style. I think that's why we're here. I think Columbus is the most similar to St. Louis. Until the puck drops you don't know. But they were intent on finishing their checks, they were very physical at the bottom of their lineup. So I see more Columbus in them then I do in the other two teams we played, Toronto and Carolina. Don't get me wrong, Carolina played hard and finished their checks. Just a different makeup than St. Louis in terms of how they do it.
To simplify things: Isn't this series going to be a battle to see which team can forecheck better?
Definitely. It'll start that way. No doubt. That's their game plan. That's their M.O. They've come out and said it. So have we. We rely on getting pucks behind their D and going from there. Make them turn and go. And then hopefully as it goes along game by game and period by period, the ice opens up in front of them. And I think we have the ability to make plays when we have time and space. That's our M.O.; I know it's theirs. How it plays out, who knows. They've got big D who can move it the puck. Our D are smaller, but we can move it too. [Torey] Krug, [Matt] Grzelcyk, [Charlie] McAvoy … [Connor] Clifton has been a nice surprise. I think whoever manages better on the breakouts, that could be a huge difference.
Blues goalie Jordan Binnington played for your AHL farm team in Providence last season. Your goaltending coach, Bob Essensa, knows him, as do some of your players. Who has the advantage that goes with familiarity in this situation?
Honestly I know very little about him. Goalie Bob worked with him a little bit in Providence so he'll have a good book on him. He's been pretty good with all the goalies, given the players a prescout on what to expect. Bob should have as much info as anyone, including talking to (goalie development coach) Mike Dunham, who's done some work down there; and Jay Leach, the coach down there. Some of the players have even shot on him. Doesn't mean we are going to beat him, but we should have a good book on him.
Finally, what edge, if any, does your leadership group of Patrice Bergeron, Chara and Tuukka Rask give you heading into the series?
I've said it before: I was so fortunate from Day One to have this group of leaders on the job. I think this week has been really beneficial. I think we'll have something like 10 days between games. I think they'll be a great influence on our younger guys and have been to this point about details. When you're at the rink you have to work and be focused. How to budget your time. How to be selfish with your time this time of year. Just so much influence. I think when the puck drops, it's just hockey again. You play. You coach. Certainly as the pressure goes up, having those guys in the locker room saying the right things matters. But I think this week right now, this layoff part, really matters in terms of the younger guys seeing how those guys handle everything.