Ranking the Top Head Coaches in Boston Bruins History

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Boston Bruins head coach Claude Julien yells from the bench as right wing Shawn Thornton (22) and center David Krejci (46), of Czech Republic, look on in the third period of an NHL hockey game against the New York Rangers in Boston, Tuesday, Feb. 14, 2012. The Rangers won 3-0.
(AP Photo/Elise Amendola)
Rachael Millanta @rachaelmillanta Jan 23, 2023, 10:39 AM
  • The Boston Bruins have had 29 head coaches in franchise history.
  • The current head coach is Jim Montgomery.
  • Claude Julien and Art Ross top the list of the best Bruins head coaches.

The Boston Bruins were formed in 1924, making them the third-oldest active team in the NHL and the oldest based in the United States. The team is consistently among the top teams in Stanley Cup odds, having won six Stanley Cups, five Conference Championships, and three Presidents’ Trophies. Among the 29 head coaches in franchise history, it’s clear they’ve had a few stars.

On June 30, 2022, the Bruins announced Jim Montgomery would take over as the team’s head coach, replacing Bruce Cassidy after six seasons. Still in his first season behind Boston’s bench, Montgomery has some big shoes to fill, but who were the best head coaches in Bruins history?

Ranking the Top Head Coaches in Boston Bruins History

5. Don Cherry

Cherry was named head coach of the Bruins for the 1974-75 season, and his eccentric and flamboyant style, often encouraging very physical and aggressive play, quickly made him a divisive figure behind the bench. Cherry kept the already-dominant Bruins at the top of the standings through the second half of the 70s, with the team boasting an NHL record of 11 players with 20 goals or more during the 1977-78 season.

In five seasons as Bruins’ head coach, Cherry accumulated a record of 231-105-64 through 400 regular-season games. He led the team to the playoffs in every season he coached, including two appearances in the Stanley Cup Final, though he never managed to take home the top prize.

4. Harry Sinden

When Sinden took over behind the Bruins’ bench in May 1966, he was the youngest head coach in the league at 33. In his fourth season (1969-70), he led the team to the franchise’s first Stanley Cup title in 29 years.

In six seasons as head coach of the Bruins, Sinden posted a record of 153-116-58 in 327 games. Boston made the playoffs in five out of Sinden’s six seasons, only missing out in his first season (1966-67).

3. Bruce Cassidy

Cassidy joined the Boston Bruins as assistant coach for the 2016-17 season, and after a brief stint as interim head coach after the firing of Claude Julien, he was announced as the new head coach on Apr. 26, 2016.

In almost six seasons behind the Bruins’ bench, Cassidy accumulated a record of 245-108-46 in 399 regular-season games. He led the team to six playoff appearances, and although he never managed to take home the Stanley Cup, a playoff berth for every season he coached is nothing to scoff at.

2. Art Ross

Ross was hired as the Bruins’ first coach and general manager when the team was formed in 1924, and he ended up having three separate stints behind Boston’s bench throughout his career. His final season as coach was 1944-45, after which he stayed on as general manager until his retirement in 1954.

With Ross at the helm, the Bruins had 10 first-place finishes in the league, 12 playoff berths, and five Stanley Cup Final appearances. The team came out on top in two of those appearances, winning the Stanley Cup in 1929 and 1939. 

In his 17 seasons behind the bench in Boston, Ross accumulated a record of 387-290-95 in 772 games. In 1947, he donated the Art Ross Trophy to the NHL, which is still awarded each year to the leading scorer of the regular season.

1. Claude Julien

The winningest coach in franchise history, Julien led the Bruins to seven playoff berths, including one Stanley Cup win (2011) to break a 40-year drought, so it shouldn’t be any surprise that he’s at the top of this list.

Julien was announced as head coach of the Bruins on Jun. 22, 2007, and in his almost 10 seasons behind the bench in Boston, he posted a record of 419-246-94 in 760 games. The Bruins made the playoffs in each of Julien’s first seven seasons, and he won the Jack Adams Award as the NHL’s top coach in 2008-09.

At the time of his firing on Feb. 7, 2017, he was the longest-tenured head coach in the NHL.

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About the Author

Rachael Millanta

Read More @rachaelmillanta

Rachael Millanta is a Web Content Writer for BetMGM focusing on Major League Baseball and the National Hockey League. Her work has been published in SB Nation, McSweeney’s Internet Tendency, and Slackjaw Humor. Originally from Sydney, Australia, Rachael now resides in Chicago, Illinois.

Rachael Millanta is a Web Content Writer for BetMGM focusing on Major League Baseball and the National Hockey League. Her work has been published in SB Nation, McSweeney’s Internet Tendency, and Slackjaw Humor. Originally from Sydney, Australia, Rachael now resides in Chicago, Illinois.