BOSTON — A decade ago, Chris Kelly and Adam McQuaid provided the Boston Bruins with the kind of grit, intelligence and toughness all Stanley Cup teams need from their role players. Now the organization hopes they can impart some of those qualities on the next generation of players.

The club introduced both former players Monday in their new roles with the organization, Kelly as the newest assistant on Bruce Cassidy’s coaching staff and McQuaid as the new Player Development Coordinator.

For Kelly, who began his post-playing career in player development with the Ottawa Senators (with a brief stint behind the bench) before coming back to the Bruins in a player development role, the move to the bench — where he is more, as he says, “in the fight” — seems a natural progression.

“You’re there day in and day out. You can see the small differences in potentially helping younger players grow their game,” said Kelly in a Zoom call. “With development, yeah, there’s that growth, but you’re not with them, day in and day out. You’re with them with their club team, in college, in junior and you’re seeing them periodically so you don’t see the growth as much, whereas when you’re there every day you can really help the player and break it down a little bit more.”

When Kelly was obtained in a trade from the Senators in 2011, he was one of the missing depth pieces that got the Bruins over the hump. But while much has been said about what Kelly brought to the Bruins, the former third-line center spoke on Monday about what the already existing Bruins environment did for him.

He now hopes to keep that torch upright.

“You hear about the Bruins’ culture throughout the league and maybe when you’re in it, you don’t (appreciate) it as much. You take it for granted,” said Kelly. “But when you go other places, other organizations, they talk about it. And it’s a thing throughout the league, how well the Bruins treat the players and the way players treat each other. It’s a culture thing, that competitiveness that their top-end players bring each and every day.

“I saw it when I joined the organization in development, how hard the top-end players compete in practice and in games and helping those players learn to be a pro. And I think Boston’s extremely fortunate to have the players that they have to lead not only the young players but the new players that come in because I was one of those players. I was fortunate enough to be a part of that team that won and to see how hard they were working right after they won the Stanley Cup in the summer to come into the next season. I think it helped me carve out a few more years in the NHL because of the work ethic they were able to instill in me as an older player. So to be able to come back and try to help with that on the other side is great.”

A full list of Kelly’s responsibilities have not yet been mapped out, but he said it will be focused on the defensive side of the game. While Kelly’s Bruin career ended before Cassidy took over, this will not be the first time that he’ll work under Cassidy, who was Kelly’s first pro coach in Grand Rapids in 2001-02.

“Watching his teams from afar, he’s an excellent coach. Obviously, Hockey Canada thought so as well,” said Kelly. “With his in-game adjustments, the way he plays on the offensive side of the puck as well as the defensive side, you’ve seen players thrive in his system stats-wise, so I’m super excited to listen to some of the things he has to say. I was able to watch his power-play presentation for the coaches clinic and being a defensive forward on the penalty-kill side, it was great to listen. I’m super excited to learn from all the coaches.”

Following Kelly’s footsteps in player development is McQuaid, who last played for the Columbus Blue Jackets in 2018-19. Since retiring, he has been around the organization, participating most recently in development camp, and he found a fit. He’ll spend a lot of time with prospects in Providence as well as traveling to see players in the pipeline who are playing in junior, college and in Europe.

“I talked to Kells a lot about what he was doing and I still have a passion for the game,” said McQuaid. “To be able to help out younger guys, I know at the junior/college level, there’s lots to figure out, lots to learn both on and off the ice and I felt like this would be a role I could embrace and enjoy doing. And obviously, to be back as part of the Bruins organization, I’m really excited about that.”

Like Kelly, McQuaid hopes to instill some of the little details that have become part of the Bruins’ experience.

“I think the Bruins are a first-class organization and have set the gold standard for success and demands that the players bring each day and hold each other accountable,” said McQuaid. “Having played there for a while, I got to see it firsthand and I think I can communicate it to the younger guys that are coming in, what the expectations are and hopefully help them eventually realize their goal of playing in the NHL and being a Boston Bruin. All those things together make this opportunity really exciting.”


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