John Gruden 'very excited' to be back in Boston as Bruins assistant coach

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New B's assistant coach John Gruden 'very excited' to be back in Boston originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston

John Gruden has strong connections with the Boston Bruins.

The newly hired assistant coach not only played in Boston from 1993-96 as a defenseman, but he has also coached a number of Bruins players as a former assistant coach of the U.S. National Development Program.

As a coach for Team USA from 2011 to 2015, Gruden worked with Bruins defensemen Matt Grzelcyk, Charlie McAvoy and Connor Clifton. He also coached Bruins forward Trent Frederic.

"There are a few players that I have crossed paths with," Gruden said Thursday in his first press conference since joining the B's. "I think any time you get the chance to work with young men, especially at that age where they were at that point of their lives and their hockey careers, hopefully you can leave a good, lasting impression, which I hope I did."

"It's exciting to work with the few of them that I've already crossed paths with and to just keep building on where they're at and move forward with them and have fun with it."

Gruden also provided insight on potential changes to the Bruins' defense in hopes of generating more offense out of the the back end.

"It's going to have to do with the way Jim (Montgomery) wants to implement the types of systems. When he hired me, we obviously talked about that stuff," Gruden said. "One of the points that he made is that he would like to get them a little bit, you know, more active but without losing that ability to defend, because that's Boston's MO."

"There are always some things. I haven't delved into it too much... It's exciting just to kind of build on something that's already there and with Jimmy's vision and the other staff. "

Gruden shared that after the Bruins hired Jim Montgomery, Gruden reached out to Bruins general manager Don Sweeney asking for Montgomery's phone number. Montgomery called Gruden "right away." After the call, it took Montgomery and Sweeney about ten days to make a decision.

"I'm very excited to work with Jim and the rest of the staff and be back with a great tradition and the Bruins organization, so I'm very grateful for it. ... I have a lot of respect for [Montgomery] and what he's done at every level that he's coached," Gruden said. "He's a winner and he's a great guy to be around the times I've spent with him at rinks, so I am excited again for the opportunity to work with Jim and the rest of the staff."

The Bruins announced Gruden's hiring Wednesday. Gruden spent the last four seasons as an assistant coach for the New York Islanders.