Will the Boston Bruins Fire Claude Julien?


The Boston Bruins finally put to bed a month’s worth of speculation when they announced that Don Sweeney would be the new general manager of the hockey team. With that first crisis of the 2015-16 season dealt with, the B’s now have to move on to their next big issue as they head into next season.

That problem is whether or not the Black and Gold will keep Claude Julien as their head coach.  While the Bruins acknowledge that Julien (who coached the team to the 2011 Stanley Cup) is currently their head coach, their long-term endorsement wasn’t as solid.

“I also acknowledged to Claude during this whole process that I think tremendously of him as a coach and a person. It’s just about lining up philosophical approaches that I believe in and that he believes in, and that we can move the group forward. As I said, some of that will involve personnel decisions and some will involve staff member decisions and/or changes. That’s to be determined. He’s the coach of the Boston Bruins as of today, for sure.” Don Sweeney on Claude Julien’s tenure in Boston

There have been fans who have been vocal in their opposition to Sweeney. Some people think he’s too much of Cam Neely‘s man, and that Sweeney’s promotion is more about giving Neely more power within the organization. But Sweeney has worked with Neely on the ice and the front office, and it will be a good thing for the Bruins to have their two top executives so well in sync with each other.

The Bruins President also spoke well of Julien and the success he’s brought to Boston. Neely maintained that the retention of Julien would be made by Sweeney. While Neely also addressed the issues brought up by the media about potential friction between himself and the head coach, he was still positive and optimistic about the team going into next season.

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  • “Let me be clear, I think we have a good coach,” said Neely of Julien. “It’s been reported that I have a problem with our coach, I think we have a good coach. I think, over the years, I would have liked to have seen some adjustments. It wasn’t about — you see certain coaches available, for me, it was making sure we make the right decision with our GM first and then we’ll go from there.

    “He’s another smart hockey guy. I’ve seen him make adjustments. He knows the game extremely well. He’s had a lot of success. This is where Don is going to make those decisions with Claude as far as the adjustments that he thinks we need to make.”

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    To Julien’s credit, his system did get the Bruins back into the playoffs and to two Stanley Cup Finals.  Up until last season, most teams in the league were having trouble playing against the Julien system.  Having Patrice Bergeron, Zdeno Chara, and Dennis Seidenberg healthy played a big part in team’s success.

    Last season was a rough one for the B’s head coach.

    The Bruins had key injuries to their defensive core. They traded away Johnny Boychuk before the first game of the season. There were some issues about over relying on underperforming veterans while benching players that were showing potential.  Players were streaky and inconsistent, and they led to a constant changing of the lines.

    The end result of those mistakes was the Black and Gold missing the playoffs for the first time in eight seasons.

    Some fans (and at times it felt like the B’s front office) put a lot of the blame on Julien. While some of those errors were his doing, he did have to improvise a lot due to injuries and players’ poor performance. Looking at Julien’s overall body of work, it would be a mistake to terminate Julien for one bad season out of eight.

    Hopefully, they’ll let Claude Julien stay at the helm to right the ship going forward in October.

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