There you have it, folks. Marc Crawford can stay in the unemployment line. Mike Milbury can (thankfully) continue to piss people off worldwide on NBC Sports. Ted Donato can hunker down at Harvard. And I guess I can put my coaching resume back in the filing cabinet even though I’ve won a couple Cup’s on NHL 16.
It was announced by general manager Don Sweeney at today’s presser that Claude Julien is coming back for a 10th season behind the Bruins bench. It was news I was hoping to hear, but I won’t speak for everyone.
The Bruins brass (publicly) believe in what Claude Julien preaches and feel his way is the way back to glory. It isn’t out of line to wonder though if a small part of the reason the Bruins kept Claude around is because they didn’t want to see him hired later in the same day he was fired by a division rival in Ottawa or Montreal. Regardless of how you see Claude fitting in Boston, he is a fantastic coach. Now the front office can give him a final shake in Boston and if it goes bad early in the season they can axe him without the threat of him quickly becoming a formidable opponent. That scenario might be a stretch, but it’s not out of the question to think the shot callers didn’t consider it. And if we’re talking potential replacements for Claude I’m not so sure there is one out there nearly as good as him.
So far the only casualty to the coaching staff is Doug Houda. He primarily worked with the defense, so conspiracy theorist can now label him the Lee Harvey of this defensive disaster, as his firing signals he took one for the team.
So what does this announcement really mean?
It means the organization is putting this on the players. And to some extent they’re putting it on Don Sweeney as well. During the presser Claude sat up there confidently answering questions in a way that seems like he’s really heartfelt about getting it done. Sweeney, although confident, sort of sounded like the rookie that he is. He gave Claude shitty ingredients to work with this season. He has to be feeling that pressure sitting next to a Stanley Cup winning head coach who is openly loved by Patrice Bergeron and other veteran star players.
But we still don’t know what the plan is. Is it a true rebuild? Or is ownership making them patch anything together for a post season appearance attempt? Is Sweeney spending the summer trading for the Rinaldo’s and Matt Irwin’s or is he really constructing this lineup? Free agency isn’t what it used to be. The salary cap has changed that. To get the ideal player you need to trade. You need to give up assets. Very few studs make it to free agency now. So what will they do to this roster?
We don’t know yet.
We do know Claude will be leading the charge from the bench. And so much of his future success is out of his hands right now. We’re just going to have to wait and see what kind of new toys he’ll get to play with come October. But I think with the right roster moves, keeping Claude will have been the right coaching move as well.