On Monday, the Boston Bruins General Manager, Don Sweeney, announced the appointment of Kevin Dean as the new head coach of the team’s AHL affiliate, the Providence Bruins. Dean’s appointment fills the spot vacated by Bruce Cassidy, who was recently hired as an assistant coach under Bruins head coach Claude Julien. It was not a huge surprise when the announcement came down, as many expected Dean to be given the position. He has served as an assistant coach under Cassidy since the 2010-11 season. This does not diminish the accomplishment for Dean, who has clearly shown Bruins’ management that he is the right man for the job.
The Madison, Wisconsin native was drafted by the New Jersey Devils during the 1987 Draft in the fifth round (86th overall). He went on to play four years for the University of New Hampshire before making the jump to the professional level in the AHL. The defenseman helped the Albany River Rats win the Calder Cup during the 1994-95 season. During his seven years in the NHL after playing for New Jersey, he was acquired during the expansion draft in 1999 by the Atlanta Thrashers. He went on to also play for the Dallas Stars and the Chicago Blackhawks. He retired in 2002.
As a coach, Dean spent four years as head coach of the ECHL Trenton Devils—owned and affiliated with the New Jersey Devils. He then went to Providence, where he has been since.
Dean’s defensive play and coaching certainly make him aware of where the Bruins club sits in defensemen in Providence. His involvement in this past week’s development camp, where he worked with the players during the on-ice sessions, he has already had a chance to see the newest of prospects, offering him a look at the players he will have coming up in the next few years.
“I’m very excited to [be working with the young defensemen]. I just got a taste of Robbie O’Gara and Brandon Carlo at the end of last year, young players like Linus Arnesson and Chris Casto, and then you’ve got Matt Grzelcyk coming into the fold this year,” Dean expressed. “All five or six of those players I just mentioned really have an asset that you can nail down. That to me is what makes a player exciting to work with is you can point to something in their game to get excited about, something in their game that can take them to the next level. Every one of those players has something.”
Given where the Bruins have ended up in the last two seasons—missing the playoffs completely, it’s important for them to grow. Much of that growth will come from those players in Providence Bruins. The fact that both the NHL and AHL clubs play the same system makes calling up a player to the NHL level much easier from an aspect of slotting him into the play. Dean’s past five years working with Cassidy helps to ensure a consistency between the players and the clubs.
“I think I mentioned that development was at the forefront of our decision making in this process and we felt that Kevin, you know, has worked very well with Bruce. I think the continuity there, understanding what the philosophies of our organization are, they align with what he believes in in trying to work with younger players, develop them, have all their games rounded to the point where they can play at any different role in the National Hockey League,” Sweeney stated.
Watching Dean on the ice this past week, it was clear that he enjoys the opportunity before him to guide these young players into their professional roles, but he also recognizes the patience that is necessary with many of them. It looks like the Providence Bruins will definitely be in good hands.