“The Bruins brass decided it’d be best to fire Claude in the midst of the Patriots Super Bowl celebration. They decided they’d hold their press conference during the middle of the celebratory parade in downtown Boston hoping attendance and hard questions could be ducked and dodged.” – BostonPucks, February 7, 2017
What a difference a year makes.
Last year at this time the Patriots were kings. Celebrating a historic Super Bowl win, the epic comeback, the model franchise. The Bruins were in limbo. Their youth wasn’t ready for the big bright NHL lights, management appeared clueless, the fans weren’t getting answers.
But a year ago today is when it all started to change.
On this day, the day of the Patriots Super Bowl 51 championship parade, the Bruins fired the greatest coach they ever had in Claude Julien. Bruce Cassidy took over. And the B’s haven’t looked back since.
Since the firing Claude has gone on to coach 77 games with the Montreal Canadiens. He is 38-32-7. After beating Detroit last night Bruce Cassidy has now coached 78 games as Claude’a replacement with B’s.
There always seemed to be something missing with Claude coached Bruins teams during his last few seasons. Whether it was the personnel he was given, his message not getting through, the team not being ready at the start of games, or the collapses down the stretch. It was an odd time for the Bruins.
Now he’s in Montreal and his Canadiens are not going to make the playoffs this season. That makes Claude’s last three full seasons with a team (he took over a playoff bound Habs last year) seasons he has not made the playoffs. I still think Claude is a good coach but this is a troubling trend for Claude coached teams.
When the Canadiens announced the hiring of Claude I thought it was not a good situation for him. You could see the direction the Habs were headed from a mile away. The Canadiens farm system was depleted and still is. They’re still so stuck on their archaic culture and on ice rely on their all-world goalie too much.
Bruce Cassidy on the other hand definitely walked into the better trending situation organizationally. The youth movement was on the horizon. Salary cap management was becoming a reality. Chiarelli’s mess was almost cleaned up. You could feel where Boston was heading.
What has made it singularly worse for Claude is not only is the Bruins farm system much better than the Canadiens, but the Canadiens also do not have the core the Bruins have. Just like the Arizona Coyotes, they could have a plethora of prospects but no proven and resilient core or culture to mature with. They don’t even have a true top center. The Canadiens leading scorer Max Pacioretty has 33 points. That would be good for 5th on the Bruins and 4 points behind Danton Heinen.
These are two organizations going in opposite directions and it is not going to end well for Claude in Montreal. It won’t end well for their GM Marc Bergevin either. Hell, it may end for both this summer.
And if you had told me a year ago today at the Patriots championship parade that the Bruins would have a core, a supporting cast, and a new coach with a legit chance to win a title before the Pats did again I would have laughed my ass off.
What a difference a year makes.
Follow us on Twitter @BostonPucks and let’s talk hockey.