Boston Bruins Year-End Press Conference Reveals Inner Workings

Dec 23, 2013; Nashville, TN, USA; Boston Bruins head coach Claude Julien watches his team play against the Nashville Predators during the third period at Bridgestone Arena. The Bruins beat the Predators 6-2. Mandatory Credit: Don McPeak-USA TODAY Sports
Dec 23, 2013; Nashville, TN, USA; Boston Bruins head coach Claude Julien watches his team play against the Nashville Predators during the third period at Bridgestone Arena. The Bruins beat the Predators 6-2. Mandatory Credit: Don McPeak-USA TODAY Sports /

During the Boston Bruins annual year-end press conference, owner Jeremy Jacobs uncharacteristically shed light on the inner workings of his organization. Usually tight-lipped, Jacobs and his top executives revealed some of what was behind the decision to change coaches. And they revealed a lot about why it took so long.

The annual presser at TD Garden is typically the end-cap on the season. A time for ownership, in the form of Jeremy Jacobs, and management to get together and give good face time to the media and fans. A time to answer questions and show accountability to the rabid Boston Bruins fan base.

This year, Jacobs brought along his kid, and Bruin CEO, Charlie Jacobs and former Bruin power forward and current team president Cam Neely to help answer questions.

Having his kid around must loosen Jeremy up, because he was dropping hot takes all day long.

Maybe it’s just familiarity, but reading between the lines of his corporate-speak was easier this time. Perhaps his verbal cloaking mechanism was malfunctioning.

Whatever the case, old Jer’ gave us some meat to chew on.

Jacobs and Julien

The Bruins fired head coach Claude Julien on Feb. 7 and replaced him with interim coach Bruce Cassidy. Cassidy took the team from 26-23-6 and falling out of the playoff picture to an 18-8-1 finish and six games of first-round playoff action.

Related Story: Boston Bruins Waited Too Long to Fire Claude Julien

The move was a success, clearly. They just waited too long to do it. The Boston Herald website reports Jacobs when asked about the coaching change, said:

"“The decision was very much made here in Boston and the leadership here. My own impression was it was overdue, we were a little late. Maybe I precipitated part of that in having misplaced loyalty in that sense. But it was the right move. It was a very prudent move and it was a prudent hire.”"

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“Overdue,” and, “a little late.” How about way overdue and far too late, Jeremy? And why the loyalty? What is that all about? Did Julien’s contract have anything to with it? (Julien was making $2.5 million and under contract for the 2017-18 season at $3 million)

Ironically, Jacobs almost cost the team a playoff round and himself millions of dollars in ticket and concessions revenue by keeping Julien behind the bench way past his expiration date.

The old phrase penny-wise but pound-foolish comes to mind.

To his credit, Jacobs admits the mistake, and in turn, lets the general manager Don Sweeney off the hook for the Julien debacle. But couching his decision in loyalty is pure PR garbage.

Jacobs and the Bruins Future

Jacobs is also happy with how the team is progressing and downright giddy (for him) with the future prospects of the team:

"“I think we had a successful season because of what evolved, the changing of the guard . . . in our coaching ranks and I think our leadership showed itself very well,” said Jacobs. “I think hope springs eternal . . . I think the direction is good and I think we did a tremendous job once we had Butch [Cassidy’s nickname, though I’m not sure Jacobs knows that] in place. So I’m happy with where we are and I’m happy looking at the next generation of players coming into this organization.”"

So Jeremy is happy with the coaching change, despite not wanting to do it because he is so loyal to Julien. And he’s pleased with how well the leadership performed. That must mean Neely and Sweeney, perhaps his kid CEO Charlie. And he’s happy with the rising young talent.

Anyone could have gone up there and said the same thing.

Don’t be fooled, Jacobs said almost nothing in that quote. Sure, he’s happy with the coaching change. But how could he not be? And what if he said he was not happy with the change? Now that would be a hot take.

Bruins Slow to Change

The Bruins missed the playoffs two years straight after winning a Stanley Cup in 2010-11 and taking the Chicago Blackhawks to Game 6 of The Finals in 2012-13. The team was inconsistent and lacked any pulse during consecutive year-end collapses. Many fingers, mine included, pointed at Julien.

When asked if he would accept long stretches of under-performing in his other businesses, Jacobs replied, “It’s a sports franchise, and it’s evolving. We went in a particular direction. We had a sea change in direction. I think there’s been a substantive change. Change for the sake of changing, as you know, is not an intelligent move.”

Son Charlie chimed in with this explanation:

"“We have made significant change in the last 24 months. We have a new coach. We have a new general manager (Sweeney who took the reigns from Peter Chiarelli after the 2014-15 season), and we have significant different profile in what we have in terms in prospects as we did 24 months ago.”"

I don’t know what’s scarier; that Jeremy thinks change for change sake is “not intelligent,” despite all signs pointing to the fact that his team needed just that . Or that his kid thinks 24 months is an acceptable time-frame to accomplish organizational changes?

The Owner Sets the Pace

I guess we know why the Bruins move at such a glacial pace. The boss sets the pace. Don’t expect rapid-fire decisions to come out of this club anytime soon. And who knows, Cassidy may turn out to be a fine coach, but anyone paying attention knew the Bruins needed a change, any change at head coach.

Jacobs is 77 and has been a success for many years and owned the team for many years, so his perspective is different. He is looking at a bigger picture than I am. His picture frame includes profit margins and long-term cash flows. On the other hand, mine includes Wednesday nights in May without Bruins playoff hockey and short-term misery.

Next: Boston Bruins Entertaining Trade Offers for Ryan Spooner

If you’re looking for an innovative team, one that will adjust to rapid changes in the NHL and the game of hockey then the Boston Bruins aren’t for you. However, the Bruins will compete for a Cup just not very often, about once or twice every 20 years.

Yes, it takes time to build a winner. But does it have to take this long?