Claude Julien awaits ambiguous future

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The Boston Bruins have been playing a contrived game of charades with longtime coach Claude Julien this offseason. Credible reports from an array of media outlets have covered Julien’s future with Boston from head to toe. Some report Julien could depart Causeway St. around the NHL Draft, which occurs June 26–27 in Sunrise, FL. A recent report suggests that Julien will remain for the coming season while on a close watch. Essentially if the coach makes one wrong move, newly acclaimed General Manager Don Sweeney will cut ties with him.

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  • Thus, Julien awaits an ambiguous future. If he remains the head coach, only to eventually be fired next season, he’ll likely find no market with a gaping coaching vacancy. That’s what the offseason is for. So why are the Bruins playing this game with Julien? It could stem from Neely’s disinterest in Julien and his coaching tactics. Cam Neely is looking for a new identity in Bruins hockey, and he feels it begins with the coach.

    Tampa Bay’s Jon Cooper and Chicago’s Joel Quenneville are two exemplary coaches in the eyes of Neely. They’re proven coaches who have led their respected teams to the Stanley Cup Final, known for substituting rapidly in the course of a game. They shorten their benches when key players are peeking or plateauing. They spread minutes accordingly to players who deserve to play more than others. Neely would be the first to attest Julien just doesn’t do that. He wants him gone. But it appears Sweeney isn’t departing him quite yet, if at all.

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    But if it has been the Bruins’ plan all along to depart with Julien, why would they elude doing it sooner than later? The economical approach would be to actually want Julien to get a job somewhere to offset his salary. Openings are fading quickly. The Red Wings are the only team with a vacant coaching spot. The Bruins likely don’t want to send their former coach to a team in the division, but they also wouldn’t prefer to pay two coaches next season.

    The honorable path would be to cut ties with Julien soon. Fans of Julien would prefer to put him out of his misery. Ultimately, Sweeney is Neely’s pick. He’ll do what he has to do in order to stay one step ahead of winding up like his predecessor, Peter Chiarelli.

    Don Sweeney is Neely’s hire.  He stated in his press conference that the team is changing gears in a new direction. Claude Julien is not a new direction. The Bruins under Peter Chiarelli attempted to alter Julien and his coaching habits. At intervals of a season, he revamped his system. He altered lines when they needed altering. He gave minutes when minutes were needed, and especially when they weren’t.

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  • But then there comes a time when Julien muddles in the middle. The Bruins need more than a muddler in the middle. The Bruins need a coach who they don’t have to fight with in order to change themselves to coach in a style they are in search of.

    Neely and company have told fans that they are ready for change. They have reached a point of mediocracy that is inexcusable. They’ve given fans the “it’s time to move on” spiel. Moving on from Chiarelli in only half the battle. Recent reports suggest that if things go sideways next season, Julien will be out of town.

    If Julien is fired next year instead of this offseason, possible candidates for a replacement are Bruce Cassidy and Mike Milbury. How troubling would it be to step in to Julien’s shoes after hearing from the media that Mike Milbury of all coaches would be a potential candidate. Milbury is an analyst. He’s a spectator. He’s been away from the game for several years. If you’re Julien, you sense you’re being replaced by a TV personalty, and that has to be a low for any coach on the rocks.

    Milbury has been away from the game since 2006 when he was the New York Islanders GM. Julien is not oblivious to what is being said in the media and on Causeway St. He knows his days in Boston may be numbered. He knows he’s not appreciated by Neely anymore. It’s time for the Bruins to make a decision. It’s time for Sweeney to make his first big move with the Bruins. If what Boston says is true – that being they look to attain a new identity – Claude Julien will not be behind the Bruins bench for long. Yet currently, that notion is as ambiguous as ever.

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