Claude Julien Wants To Keep Boston Bruins Rivalry Going

Sep 5, 2016; Ottawa, ON, Canada; Canada assistant coach Claude Julien during practice for the World Cup of Hockey at Canadian Tire Centre. Mandatory Credit: Marc DesRosiers-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 5, 2016; Ottawa, ON, Canada; Canada assistant coach Claude Julien during practice for the World Cup of Hockey at Canadian Tire Centre. Mandatory Credit: Marc DesRosiers-USA TODAY Sports /

Claude Julien was fired from the Boston Bruins last week. Yesterday, he was tapped to be the new head coach for the Montreal Canadiens. If that doesn’t heat up the simmering rivalry between the Bruins and the Habs, nothing will.

Claude Julien was tapped by the Montreal Canadiens to be their new head coach yesterday. At yesterday’s press conference, the former Boston Bruins bench boss got to talk about his time with the Black and Gold. He offered up his disappointment about having to leave Boston, and what he would like to see become of the ancient Bruins-Habs rivalry.

“Any time a coach doesn’t get a chance to finish a season then there’s disappointment. [Don Sweeney] came in, and he had certain things in mind and I had to respect that. You have to respect that your boss is your boss,” said Julien of the changes that led to his dismissal last week.

“So far who could say he didn’t make the right move with three wins in a row? Certainly it had an immediate impact. But at the same time, do I feel bad? Yeah. When you look at the things we did well: puck possession and defensively. I think we were first in all [puck possession] categories, and spent the less amount of time in our own end, and gave the least amount of shots from the slot. We had a lot of good things, but at times it seemed like we just couldn’t get it together on certain nights.

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Since Claude Julien’s departure, the Bruins have turned to former assistant coach Bruce Cassidy. Cassidy’s tweaks were a welcome surprise to the Bruins fans. The B’s have gone 3-0 with Cassidy as their bench boss and have put in 14 goals (4.67 goals per game) with their new, more aggressive and forward-thinking style of play.

Claude Julien has always been a class act. The first time I got to ask him a question, he complimented me on it. Julien is currently the only active coach with the dubious honor of being fired from three teams with which he had a winning record with (The Bruins, Devils, and his first run in with Montreal).

“We were starting to score, and we’d already been scoring quite a bit. I thought it was close. We can predict whatever we want. The Bruins are obviously on a pretty good roll there now, so for me it is time to move on. You don’t spend ten years here, and even watching the games, I wasn’t sitting at home hoping that they would lose. I have too much respect for all those players that had been enormous for me during my career in Boston.

In the end, Claude Julien will always have a soft spot in his heart for the Black and Gold. It’s the only team he’s won a Stanley Cup with (to date). But now, he’s got to move on. With Julien returning to Montreal, the rivalry just got hot again (whether Julien wanted to or not).

“Having won Stanley Cups with the Bergerons, the Krejcis, the Charas and the Marchands to name a few, Tuukka was there as well. There are a lot of good people. I’d say every guy in there was a good person. I never had issues with any of them. So you sit here and you want them to succeed. Having said that, I’m with another team now and I need to succeed with that team. There’s obviously a rivalry that exists between those two organizations, and I intend to keep that rivalry going. But on the ice, not off the ice. I have too much respect for those [Bruins] players.”

Next: Claude Julien Now Working For The Habs

Claude Julien (for all his faults) gave the Boston Bruins their first Stanley Cup win in 39 years. He got the Bruins to the Stanley Cup final twice. His leadership made the Bruins a relevant NHL team again. Even though he’s battling for the enemy now, there will always be a deep reservoir of respect and affection for the man who walked the Cup into the TD Garden.

Now, he’ll be coaching “the enemy”.  As long as Claude Julien is there, I’ll have to consider Montreal more of “those guys” or even “the loyal opposition” as opposed to “the enemy”.