|04.13.16 at 6:37 pm ET|
When the Bruins did not make Claude Julien or Don Sweeney available at the Bruins’ end-of-season player availability, it seemed the writing was on the wall for the Bruins’ head coach. The team’s next announcement, it figured, would be that they had relieved the long-tenured coach of his duties after nine seasons.
Well, this team and organization has been anything but predictable since last April, so perhaps it shouldn’t have been a shock when the next announcement ended up being Wednesday’s release that both Sweeney and Julien would be available for a press conference on Thursday. President Cam Neely and CEO Charlie Jacobs’ year-end presser is scheduled for next Wednesday, according to the press release.
Tuesday’s release did not reveal anything definitive about Julien’s status. It’s certainly possible that they could still end up firing Julien and that they’re in no rush to do it because they figure the candidates to replace him (Nate Leaman, Bruce Cassidy) aren’t going anywhere in the meantime. They can theoretically hold onto Julien in an effort to get the Senators to fork over some sort of compensation for the head coach’s services.
Or it could mean that the Bruins are actually going to keep him. As we’ve written, that would be the smart move, even if it’s seemed like the unlikely move since the B’s missed the playoffs for a second straight season.
At any rate, the scheduling could lead one to believe that Julien won’t be fired in the coming days unless they’re going to bump up Neely’s presser. After all, if the Bruins were going to fire Julien, the president of the team would have to speak a heck of a lot sooner than a whole week later.
|04.13.16 at 12:48 pm ET|
By all indications, Brad Marchand has loved non-playoff teams over the years. They’ve just been such easy targets.
Playing on them hasn’t been as fun. After years of shoving their 2011 Stanley Cup championship in their opponents’ faces (probably too many years), the Bruins officially have no scoreboard to point to, no recent track record with which to antagonize the other bench.
The Bruins certainly got their money’s worth with their Cup championship and general dominance over the Eastern Conference. They were better than their opponents and they let everyone in the NHL know to the point that they were admittedly obnoxious. Months before they won it all, Marchand skated by the Leafs’ bench in a game towards the end of the 2010-11 regular season and made a golf-swing gesture. He proved he could walk the walk by racking up 19 points during Boston’s Cup run.
“When we were winning and when we were going to the finals and when we won, we had such a dominant team,” Marchand said this week. “You can play with that arrogance and you can get away with it because you back it up. That’s tough to do when you’re not winning as frequently.”
The taunting was part of the Bruins’ charm during their recent heyday, but with two straight ninth-place finishes, that heyday is over. When the B’s kept it up long after winning, it became more of a bad look than anything else. The Bruins were not happy when Marchand made a Cup-raising gesture to the Vancouver crowd in a game the B’s were losing by three goals during the 2013-14 season. It was awkward when Milan Lucic raised the Cup to Canadiens fans in the 2014-15 seasons, which was not only four seasons after Boston won, but mere months after the Habs had eliminated them from the previous season’s playoffs.
Fortunately, Marchand has a few other ways of entertaining. His play with the puck on his stick made this the most impressive regular season of his career, as he scored a personal best 37 goals to finish sixth in the league.
Marchand hopes to continue putting on a show the way he did this season. Just don’t expect much of the taunting until the B’s are winning again.
“If you’re going to act arrogant, you have to be able to back it up,” Marchand said. “That’s something we were always able to do. It’s tough at times and it’s frustrating when you’re playing against teams and they’re acting like that towards you. Hopefully we can get back there and be able to play with that same kind of swagger.”
|04.13.16 at 9:51 am ET|
Alexander Khokhlachev didn’t hold back when venting his frustrations with the Bruins back in September, so perhaps his agent’s recent comments shouldn’t come as a surprise.
With Khokhlachev at the end of his entry-level contract and coach Claude Julien’s status with the Bruins in limbo, Khokhlachev’s agent blamed his client’s lack of NHL success (zero points in nine NHL games) on Boston’s head coach.
Alex Khokhlachev’s agent blames Julien for not giving a chance to his client,says #Bruins disrupted all the possible deals involving Koko1/2
— Igor Eronko (@IgorEronko) April 13, 2016
Khokhlachev’s agent won’t comment the possible offer from #SKA but doesn’t rule out return to Russia 2/2
— Igor Eronko (@IgorEronko) April 13, 2016
Khokhlachev posted strong numbers in the AHL the last two seasons but was invisible during his callups to Boston, where he’s averaged under 10 minutes of ice time per game.
A second-round pick of the Bruins in 2011, the center’s issues with Julien will certainly feed into Julien’s perhaps overstated reputation for not being a good coach for developing young forwards. Julien has developed the likes of Brad Marchand, David Krejci, Milan Lucic and Ryan Spooner, among others. Khokhlachev’s chances of becoming a full-time Bruin dwindled when Spooner and Noel Acciari seized open center jobs behind Patrice Bergeron and Krejci.
Khokhlachev will be a restricted free agent this summer. If he is to stay in North America (his father is the general manager of Spartak Moscow of the KHL), it’s hard to believe he’d want to stay with the B’s.
|04.12.16 at 9:27 pm ET|
Dale Arnold gave his plan for how he would return the Bruins to the playoffs.
On Tuesday’s Dale & Holley show, Arnold said an offseason priority should be to make Patrice Bergeron captain, regardless of whether Zdeno Chara — whom Arnold said should be traded — was back with the team.
“I think it’s time to change the captain,” Arnold said. “Assuming he’s on this team next year, Patrice Bergeron has to have the ‘C’ on his sweater and not Zeno Chara. I’d start there because they had a huge leadership void on this team all season long.”
Arnold said he would buy out Jimmy Hayes, who was a disappointment in the first year of a three-year contract with the B’s. Hayes, whose cap hit is $2.3 million, scored 13 goals in his first year with his hometown team.
“I’d buy out Jimmy Hayes — $2.3 million for each of the next two seasons, bad signing by Don Sweeney,” Arnold said. “I would buy out Jimmy Hayes, take the financial hit, move on while you can.”
|04.12.16 at 10:21 am ET|
The Senators fired head coach Dave Cameron and his staff on Tuesday, a move that could eventually lead to a familiar face heading to Ottawa.
Should Claude Julien be fired by the Bruins, he would figure to be an ideal candidate for the Senators. Julien, regarded as one of the league’s top coaches, grew up in nearby Orleans, Ontario. Furthermore, Julien has experience working with current Senators general manager Pierre Dorion.
#Sens GM Pierre Dorion gave Julien his first coaching job 23 years ago with the Ottawa Jr. Senators of the Central Junior Hockey League
— Don Brennan (@SunDoniB) April 12, 2016
The Bruins have yet to make an announcement on Julien or make him available to the media. Julien last spoke publicly after Saturday’s 6-1 loss to the Senators, which proved to be the team’s final game of the season when they were eliminated from playoff contention hours later.
Julien has coached the Bruins for nine seasons. He has two years remaining on a three-year contract.
|04.12.16 at 8:44 am ET|
After the trade deadline, Bruins management said in various public forums that the team did not receive an offer of either a first-round pick or two second-round picks for Loui Eriksson.
That could very well be true, but it’s hard to believe.
Consider that Andrew Ladd (17 goals at the time he was traded) went for a first and a prospect. Lee Stempniak (16 goals at the time) went for a second and a fourth. Eriksson had 23 goals at the deadline and went on to score 30 goals this season.
Regardless of what was offered, the Bruins elected to keep Eriksson because they wanted to make the playoffs. Now his contract has essentially expired and he’ll be able to sign wherever he wants on July 1.
For a player who is trying to score his last big contract, it probably wasn’t too flattering for Eriksson to hear the Bruins telling everyone who would listen that teams didn’t want to pay a high price for him. Maybe it was a negotiating tactic so the Bruins, who were trying to sign him up until the trade deadline, could still sign the player for cheap. Whatever it was, Eriksson wasn’t sure he believed it.
“It’s hard to tell,” Eriksson told WEEI.com, carefully choosing his next words. “I don’t know. There was a lot of things going on at around that time.
“I think the type of player that I am, I think a lot of teams want that type of player. We’ll see what’s going to happen.”
|04.12.16 at 7:59 am ET|
In some ways, breakup day in hockey is like the players’ last day of work. In 2011, Bruins players had to work more than expected.
Brad Marchand had been overserved. Walking through the hall at TD Garden on the way to meet with the press, a Mike Cameron-jersey-wearing Marchand was babbling about how much he loved baseball after the Stanley Cup champs had just been to Fenway Park. Once everyone, media included, had gone into the Bruins’ dressing room for the commencement of the year-end availability, various Bruins players kept watch of Marchand in the players’ lounge to make sure Marchand didn’t venture over to the media and field questions.
From every time the door to the players’ lounge would crack open, it looked like hard work. Marchand kept getting up. He really wanted to talk about baseball.
Only one team a year gets to come out of breakup day with such stories. For the rest, it’s roughly the same routine everywhere: tie up odds and ends, have exit meetings with the coaches and executives, take physicals and give final comments to the media.
The Bruins did not follow that routine Monday. Not only did the coach and general manager not give their annual season-ending press conference, they didn’t even conduct the exit interviews with the players.
Claude Julien, Cam Neely and Don Sweeney were all at the Garden on Monday, so the fact that the annual meetings were not held when all parties were present came off as very suspect. The meetings will still be held at some point, so one has to wonder if the Bruins are waiting until after they fire Julien to conduct them.