“Fire Julien”


The Bruins had a rough night in Buffalo Wednesday and could not hold onto two different leads which resulted in a 3-2 loss to the Sabres. After the game had ended, I was driving, listening to a sports talk radio show and the first caller uttered the above quote. The caller was demanding that the Bruins fire head coach Claude Julien because, “…he doesn’t know what he’s doin’…” The caller went on to say how he thinks the B’s should, “…bring back Milbury, or O’Reilly, or make Neely the coach…” The host of the show, to his credit, disagreed with the caller saying the Bruins losing to Buffalo was not Julien’s fault and, as is always the case, it is the players who are responsible for getting it done on the ice. I totally agree with the show’s host. If coach Claude did not know what he was doing, would he be a National Hockey League coach? Would this be his eighth season in the NHL? Julien has guided his teams (Montreal, New Jersey, and Boston) to the playoffs in five of his seven previous seasons. As of today, the Bruins are in eighth place in the Eastern conference, which makes them a playoff team, again, this season. From here, it looks like the coach knows a thing or two about coaching hockey.

Another caller chimed in with how he believes Julien does not know how to “motivate” hockey players. As many of you know, I have played college hockey, officiated at the international and professional levels, and coached at the minor pro level. I’m here to tell you, the coach of a professional hockey team, or any pro sports team, is not in the motivational business. If an elite level athlete cannot motivate himself to play up to his normal standards and/or exceed them, then he is in the wrong business. Not to mention, when a franchise sees a player not coming to work ready to do his job, that franchise is not going to wait to have someone else “motivate” him. The organization will say good bye to that player in a hurry.  The players have daily and pre-game routines they use to get ready to play. They do not want, nor need, someone holding their hands telling them to “think about the game.” Ask yourself this, would you want your boss giving you the “give it all you got” speech every day? The idea that any coach needs to “motivate” his players is a thoroughly ridiculous one and people need to put it to rest.

So, what is the answer to the Bruins roller coaster season so far? Well, I have my thoughts such as the team needs to play better in its defensive zone. It needs to get more shots on net in the offensive zone and it needs to be more determined in its neutral zone forecheck but these opinions are not earth shattering revelations. I guarantee Coach Julien and his staff have already begun working on making the adjustments necessary to put the team back on the winning path. If I, or anyone else, had the all the answers, we’d all be NHL coaches, wouldn’t we?

Your black and gold are in Montreal tonight to take on Les Canadiens. A win puts the two teams in a tie for first place in the Northeast Division. The teams will also be tied for third place in the conference standings. This is a big game for both teams. No doubt, each will be motivated to go home with a W.

Remember to go to http://vote.nhl.com/ and vote for Tim Thomas, Patrice Bergeron, Zdeno Chara, and David Krejci, for the 2011 NHL All Star Game.

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Shawn Hutcheon can be followed on twitter by going to www.twitter.com/@shawnhutcheon. You can become his friend on facebook by going to www.facebook.com/shawnhutcheon.