Claude Julien has done a fabulous job in taking a misguided Boston Bruins team and molding them into perennial Stanley Cup contenders. Since coming on board in the summer of 2007, he was tasked with not only returning to the playoffs, but propelling Boston to a championship.
In the summer of 2011, he did just that after repeated disappointments in the early rounds of the playoffs. Widely speculated was the notion that the only reason he was allowed to keep his job was simply because he brought a title to the organization.
But that was many years ago.
With Jimmy Vesey selecting the New York Rangers despite growing up around the city of Boston and playing his college hockey at Harvard, was a subtle slap in the face for Bruins fans.
Was it because he saw New York as his best chance to make an instant impact during his two year deal? Or was Boston never truly a part of the conversation?
Immediately when considering Boston, a few red flags shoot up. Dougie Hamilton, Phil Kessel and Tyler Seguin have all failed at adopting Boston as their ‘home away from home’ despite their draft status. Furthermore, players like Jimmy Hayes and Chris Bourque have had difficulty dealing with the spotlight on them considering their roots to the city.
Coincidence? Perhaps, but that solution is far too boring to accept.
So, I’ll blame the coach.
On the outside looking in fans across the spectrum of the NHL would kill for a coach like Claude. As far as the stat books go, he is one of the best coaches of this generation. Coaching in big cities with big expectations. After all, you must be somewhat talented at what you do to represent team Canada in two Olympics in a row. However, had it not been for the summer of 2011, he would have primarily failed when it came to the clutch. Canada is practically a shoe in to win a gold medal, so I’m looking at the NHL strictly.Embed from Getty Images
While the wound of the Tyler Seguin trade was hidden primarily behind the production of Jarome Iginla in 2013-14, the salt shaker has been uncapped and dumped all over it in the years that followed.
Starring down the barrel of the 2016-17 season, many questions remain unanswered. While Vesey’s ability to become a go to guy in the NHL is still a mystery, it’s hard to view this as anything but another jab in the ribs to Bruins fans. A lot of destruction has gone on within the organization in a short period of time and now the damage is beginning to show.
Claude has not necessarily hidden the fact that he has a short fuse when it comes to younger players getting prime time minutes. Phil Kessel was at extreme odds with Claude Julien which was the direct reasoning to why he was traded.Embed from Getty Images
Tyler Seguin was born to be a star in Boston, but during their 2013 Stanley Cup run, he was separated from his trust circle. Truth be told the divide between management and Julien began the day after the Seguin trade. Cam Neely was on the fence about the deal, but the coach wanted him gone. You know who won.
Dougie Hamilton was viewed as Chara’s replacement once he retires in the next season in a half. He obviously requested a trade. Signing with a Calgary team littered with younger talent and a weaker opportunity to win a Cup.
Seems kind of strange that these kids wouldn’t want to play in a city that embraces its hockey team as one of the best in the region, doesn’t it?
Entering Don Sweeney’s second term as GM in Boston, that tension between the coach and Neely remains, making for an excellent tug of war between bench boss and VP of player personnel.
Jimmy Vesey picked New York because he didn’t want to play for the Boston Bruins. Not because the fans are too hard on local boys, not because they’re going through a “rebuild”, but believe it or not people, it’s because of the coach.
Until Claude can show the public that he is a coach willing to help work younger players through the difficult learning curve, you will continue to see free agent blunders such as this.
Forget what you heard about Jimmy Hayes slandering Boston. Your coach is your biggest enemy. Now that is a tough pill to swallow.
Don’t fret Boston, you got Dominic Moore.
-Joey Russo (@JoeyRusso12)