Ex-Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy reflects on emotional return to Boston

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Cassidy reflects on emotional return to Boston as Knights end B's streak originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston

BOSTON -- Monday night's showdown between the Bruins and Vegas Golden Knights wasn't just a regular game in December.

Far from it, actually.

It was a matchup between the two best teams in the NHL, a potential Stanley Cup Final preview and, of course, the much-anticipated return of former Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy.

Cassidy, who was fired by Boston in June after five-plus seasons behind the bench, got a little revenge when his team defeated the Bruins 4-3 in a shootout, becoming the first opponent to win at TD Garden since April 14 of last season.

"That was awesome for him," Golden Knights forward Paul Cotter said of his head coach. "He made sure that we knew he wanted it. It was a good win for him."

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It was an emotional night for Cassidy, and that was evident during the first period when the Bruins played a special tribute video on the jumbotron. Fans in attendance gave him a loud ovation, and you could see he was fighting back tears on the bench as he acknowledged the crowd and thanked them.

"That’s something that I’ll get choked up about, obviously, probably in about three seconds. But I appreciated it," Cassidy said. "It’s that simple. I appreciate it. I did what I could here to help the team win. Now it’s on to Vegas."

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Did this game feel like closure for Cassidy?

"Yep, it's over," he explained. "There's been a lot of talk, and some of that's one me. Some of it's just the way it's played out. Like I said, I really enjoyed my time here. I've been focusing on Vegas, but this game, you know, it's kinda one of those ones -- my kids are like, 'Can we come.' No, you have school. Different things like that. It's just not an ordinary game."

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The Bruins and Golden Knights lead their respective conferences in points percentage. They are two well-balanced teams that can roll four lines, play a structured defensive game and receive quality goaltending on a consistent basis. They both play fast, physical and have loads of veteran experience.

It's not crazy at all to envision these franchises playing in Boston again in June during the Stanley Cup Final.

"I would like to be here in the spring. Wouldn't that be nice, eh?" Cassidy admitted. "Two good hockey teams that are trending that way. A lot is going to happen between now and then, I'm sure. But us coaches are focused on our next opponent Wednesday night."