Hard to believe a head coach who won a Stanley Cup in 2011, got to another Finals in 2013, won a Presidents Trophy and was Olympic Gold Medal winning Canada’s assistant coach in 2014, is now sitting on the hot seat. But that’s exactly where Claude Julien is right now. How long his leash will be for the upcoming season is a real unknown.
Claude Julien’s successful run as Boston Bruins head coach has been a roller coaster ride. He was on the brink of being fired in 2011 when Montreal came within an overtime goal of eliminating the Bruins in the first round of the playoffs. The Bruins escaped that series thanks to Timmy Thomas and Nathan Horton’s clutch heroics and went on to win the Stanley Cup and save Julien’s job. But after a disappointing playoff exit to Montreal in 2014 and missing the playoffs this past season everything came to a head. GM Peter Chiarelli was fired, key players were moved to other teams, and Julien was left in limbo. The way he was left to sit and wait to see if he’d be fired by the Bruins this past spring is something that bothered this Bruins fan.
So for a guy who’s won so much with the Black n’ Gold, and who could become the franchises all-time winning coach this season, how long does he get to work with the new look Bruins? If the season starts like a dumpster fire he could be gone as fast as a New England summer. If the Bruins bring the energy they’re trying to infuse back into their game, and they’re above .500, I think they’ll give him more leash and see if he can push them to the next level like he has done many times before.
When the Bruins missed the playoffs last year they had 96 points. That’s the first time a team in NHL history has had that many points and not made the post season. It wasn’t a terrible year. But it wasn’t a consistent, night in and night out good effort, type of year. The personnel and cap situation Julien had to work with was less than ideal as well. Now with the changes they’ve made this summer there are no excuses left for Julien. They have to be a playoff team. He has to have them ready to go each game.
I like Claude Julien as the Bruins coach. For all the “he doesn’t know offense” bashing he takes the Bruins as a team have consistently been a top-10 offensive club during his tenure. And I think with the personnel changes they organization has made you are going to see a few more up tempo wrinkles to the Bruins game. In the end the only thing NHL team owners and presidents are loyal to is winning. If Claude can continue doing that and put them on track for the postseason he should be safe. Otherwise, he’ll be coaching an expansion team in Las Vegas before he knows it.