BOSTON -- Dave Lewis is headed from the Stanley Cups and
stars of Detroit to the failures and fresh faces of Boston.
The Bruins hired him as their coach, an official within the NHL
said Wednesday, one day after Mike Sullivan was fired following a
last-place finish in the Northeast Division in his second season.
The official spoke to The Associated Press on the condition of
anonymity because the Bruins hadn't made an announcement. That is
expected at a news conference Thursday afternoon to be attended by
Peter Chiarelli, who is scheduled to officially take over as
general manager on July 15 after completing his duties as Ottawa's
Lewis spent 15 seasons as an assistant coach for the Red Wings
before succeeding Scotty Bowman as head coach after they won their
third Stanley Cup in six years in 2001-02. He held the job for two
seasons, but his contract wasn't renewed in June 2005 and he stayed
with Detroit as a scout.
The Bruins said they would not announce their head coach before
the news conference. Chiarelli and Lewis did not return telephone
The pair have a major challenge to rebuild the Bruins, although
Lewis is known as a motivator, a skill that could help a young
team. Sullivan was stoic and had a reputation as a players' coach
but was left without much experienced talent after the Bruins
traded their two most dynamic offensive players last season, Joe
Thornton and Sergei Samsonov.
Lewis and Chiarelli aren't the only newcomers.
The Bruins obtained offensive defenseman Paul Mara from Phoenix
last Monday for Boynton. Two days earlier, they added outstanding
center Phil Kessel from the University of Minnesota with the fifth
pick of the draft. The Bruins are picking up players who are suited
to the faster game that emphasizes skating after the NHL instituted
rules changes after the lockout wiped out the 2004-05 season.
Lewis, who spent 15 seasons as an NHL defenseman, must try to
integrate Kessel into a weak offense that is led by Patrice Bergeron, the Bruins leading scorer last season -- his second with
the team -- and Brad Boyes, a rookie last season. With Mara, Brad
Stuart, Milan Jurcina and David Tanabe, the defense appears fairly
deep. And Tim Thomas played surprisingly well in goal.
The Bruins could add a marquee player to make up for the loss of
Thornton and grab some headlines in a town dominated by the Boston
Red Sox and New England Patriots. They got some leeway to do that
Tuesday when the NHL salary cap was increased to $44 million, an
increase of about $5 million per team.
Owner Jeremy Jacobs, however, has praised the approach of the
Buffalo Sabres, who reached the seventh game of the Eastern
Conference finals this year without highly paid stars.
"Every time I look at the Buffalo team and how good a job they
did and they didn't go into free agency," Jacobs said late last
month, "it makes me say we didn't do it right last year and they
Lewis, who turns 53 Monday, led the Red Wings to first-place
finishes in the Central Division in his two seasons. But they lost
in the conference quarterfinals and then in the conference
semifinals in the playoffs.
He had been an assistant from 1987-02 under Jacques Demers,
Bryan Murray and Bowman, winning Stanley Cups in 1997, 1998 and
2002. After the final Cup win, Bowman stepped aside.
Lewis played with the New York Islanders, Los Angeles, New
Jersey and Detroit before retiring after playing six games in
1987-88 season and immediately becoming an assistant coach. In
1,008 games, he had 36 goals, 224 points and 953 penalty minutes.
The 37-year-old Sullivan grew up in the Boston area, attended
Boston University and played 11 seasons in the NHL.
"Mike went to Ottawa a couple of weeks ago and (he and
Chiarelli) had a good discussion about the game and how it needed
to be played," Bruins interim general manager Jeff Gorton said.
"Peter advised Mike that he would be talking to other candidates.
He went through that process and his decision was that at this time
we are better served to have a clean slate."