Tag Archives: Claude Julien

It’s Not You, It’s Me

Make no mistake, Claude Julien was the best thing the Boston Bruins had going for them in 2017. Over the last decade he was able to take underachieving teams and consistently put them in a position to succeed at a higher level than they were capable of.

However, as of Tuesday, February 7th, Don Sweeney and company decided going in another direction was best for the team over 50 games into the season. Following soul crushing defeats, most recently at the hands of the Toronto Maple Leafs Saturday night, it was almost a foregone conclusion that something needed to change.

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That being said, it may come as a welcomed surprise to some that the man who has been single handedly blamed for Peter Chiarelli’s miscalculation of the salary cap and questionable player movement, is gone. But for most, it is normal to feel a sense of emptiness. Being the most winningest coach in franchise history doesn’t come by accident and his decade long helm behind the bench which made him the longest currently tenured coach will not soon be forgotten. Giving the city its first title since 1972 and reinvigorating the passion that only Bobby Orr and Ray Bourque before him were able to create.

With inconsistencies in the playoffs and less than ideal performances come season’s end being the direct source to the decision that was made. Claude Julien may be a lot of things, but he is not a bad coach. Granted his reluctance to adapt to an evolving game at times was inductive to ripping your own hair out, but I digress.

Anyone can be successful with the right players in the right environment, but Julien never had complete control of player movement, and salary designation. Internally, the discourse between management and coach became more than apparent over the last year or so. And for better or worse as they say, a decision had to be made and a difficult one at the very least. With Cam Neely noticeably absent from the press conference held Tuesday morning, it has become outrageously obvious that the glaring issues with the organization weren’t just the coach.

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Filling in the now vacant position is Bruce Cassidy. The 51 year old played professionally for the Chicago Blackhawks and more recently was named as Julien’s assistant entering this season. Cassidy commented that the promotion has felt like anything but, considering it has come at the demise of a friend. Now it should be noted that the promotion is on an interim basis, which more probably than not means yet another change at head coach may loom on the horizon. Through 55 games this season the Bruins have managed to keep themselves in playoff contention in a less competitive Atlantic Division. Sitting 26-23-6 places them 4th in that respective division, now only the top three teams per division make the playoffs with the possibility to qualify for two wild card spots.    

Personally I take issue with how management handled the removal of Claude Julien from the organization. Waiting until the Patriots championship parade to make the formal announcement, in what I can only imagine was a lackluster attempt to take attention away from the severity of the situation. On the other side, perhaps it was an attempt to allow Cassidy some practice time to prep his team for San Jose Thursday night. Whatever the reason Cam Neely, the president of hockey operations not even making a public appearance at said conference is laughable at best. Leaving Don Sweeney to deal with the press alone. It felt like a major disrespect to a man whom the bulk of the players had nothing but the utmost respect for. A man who for all his flaws, and there were quite a few, managed to keep himself in the discussion as one of the league’s elites.

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Claude Julien’s era is over in Boston and for what it’s worth he deserves to go out with respect and a sense of decency. Not with the covers thrown over his head and kicked out the back door. It doesn’t feel professional, nor does it seem like something that one of the NHL’s most sought after franchises should be doing. Don’t shed too many tears for dear old Claude. The 56 year old now free agent coach has more than enough experience to take a bubble team and make mold them into a contender. With Boston in 2007 as a prime example of just that. Winnipeg, St. Louis, Florida and now Las Vegas have all been rumored to be in the market for a new coach. Also don’t rule out a return to Montreal or even New Jersey, the teams he manned prior to Boston.

Au revoir monsieur Julien, I look forward to seeing you behind a bench in no time at all.

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Crown “Julien”

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.

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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.

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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.

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-Joey Russo (@JoeyRusso12)