Joe Sacco had the good fortune of finding employment with the Buffalo Sabres last summer after being fired by the Colorado Avalanche, who hired Patrick Roy and turned their franchise’s fortunes around.
Alas, Ron Rolston, who hired him in Buffalo, was fired after winning just four of his first 20 games. Ted Nolan was hired, kept Sacco around and then turned the franchise’s fortunes around.
And then he fired Joe Sacco after the season.
Well, OK, he was “re-assigned” as a scout, although he never scouted anything but other job openings since the end of the season. He finally found a fit: Sacco was hired by the Boston Bruins to work under Claude Julien.
Normally, the hiring of an assistant coach is worth a note in Puck Headlines, but this one’s significant for three reasons:
1. It’s a former NHL head coach latching on as an assistant with a potential Stanley Cup contender.
2. He replaces Geoff Ward on the Bruins’ staff, who left for a higher-paying head coaching job with the Mannheim Eagles of the Deutsche Eishockey Liga in Germany. Ward was the architect of the Bruins’ power play, which was third in the NHL last season at 21.7-percent.
Sacco coached the penalty kill in Buffalo, which was 20th overall at an 81.4-percent success rate, and turned the Avs’ kill into an aggressive one while he was their head coach.
Doug Houda coaches the Bruins’ PK, which was ninth last season. Does he remain on that unit? Does Sacco take on PP duties? Did we just ask that question in order to work the phrase “pee-pee doodies” into a post?
3. The Bruins make this hire after many felt they had a replacement for Ward in their system: Bruce Cassidy, the former Washington Capitals head coach, who’s behind the bench in Providence. But as Joe Haggerty cautioned earlier this summer:
[Peter] Chiarelli indicated that Providence Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy was in the running for the vacant assistant coaching job given his excellent job grooming B’s players at the NHL level. But the B’s general manager openly wondered whether Cassidy was too valuable in his current trusted post to serve as an assistant on Julien’s staff, and if that made him a less-than-ideal candidate.
Sacco doesn’t exactly have a lot of fans out there – Sabres supporters lamented his firing because they felt his presence would increase their chances to tank for Connor McDavid. But he’s a Massachusetts native and a Boston collegiate athlete getting a chance to work with the Bruins. So congrats, sir, until your inevitable firing.