Boston Bruins: Claude Julien Opens Camp on Short Leash


He’s the longest tenured coach in the NHL. He has a Stanley Cup win on his resume.  For half of his eight seasons in Boston, his teams have finished in first place. He has won more games as a Bruins coach than all others, except for Art Ross.  So why is it Claude Julien will start off on a short leash this year?

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Because in the world of professional sports, it’s what have you done for me lately?  This is not exactly a new concept to Julien.  In April of 2007, while coaching the New Jersey Devils, he had his team in first place with a week to go in the season. What did that get him? Fired by Lou Lamoriello, that’s what it got him. The feeling was that Julien didn’t have the team ready to compete for a Cup run.  Lamoriello took over and they advanced to the second round, losing to the Ottawa Senators in five games.

Now it’s 2015, and Julien is coming off of a season in which the Bruins did not qualify for the playoffs.  There was non-stop speculation last year that he would be fired. When General Manager Peter Chiarelli was fired on April 15th, many still speculated that the incoming GM would want his own guy as coach.

We all know Don Sweeney was named the next General Manager, and in his introductory press conference he was asked about Julien and his status. His answer wasn’t exactly a ringing endorsement for someone with a .628 winning percentage in Boston.  “He is the coach of the Boston Bruins, as of today.”

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  • That was on May 20.  Nearly four months later, ‘today’ marks the start of training camp, and if Julien doesn’t get off to a good start, he may not be behind the bench for too long.  If he goes, who would take over?

    Don Cherry can probably be ruled out. At 81 years of age, he’s been stating for three decades that he’d have to take too much of a pay cut to leave TV and return behind the bench. One named mentioned is current Providence Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy.  He’s been behind the bench in Rhode Island for four full seasons, and was an assistant for three prior to that.  He has also served as an assistant for the Washington Capitals and Chicago Blackhawks.

    Former Bruins coach Mike Milbury has also had his name surfacing since last spring. While he does keep a hand in coaching, leading the Boch Blazers U16 squad, but he hasn’t coached an NHL game this century.  He did lead the Bruins to the Stanley Cup Finals. Twenty five years ago. The Bruins have stated as an organization that they want to be tougher to play against.  Milbury would bring that style of play along.

    Finally, what about John Tortorella? He knows how to win (Calder Cup in Rochester, Stanley Cup in Tampa Bay.) After being fired in Vancouver, he’s had a year on the sidelines.  This was after the better part of being involved in coaching for nearly thirty years. During his stint with ESPN during the playoffs, he appeared to emit a much calmer persona than what was witnessed when he decided to visit an opponents dressing room between periods. He has local ties and roots, and would absolutely bring.

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