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Cam Neely on Bruins keeping Claude Julien: ‘I had no problem with that at all’

04.20.16 at 11:55 am ET
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Cam Neely

Cam Neely

Bruins president Cam Neely said at Wednesday’s press conference that he fully supported general manager Don Sweeney’s preference to retain Claude Julien for a 10th season.

Julien’s status was up in the air after the Bruins missed the playoffs for a second consecutive season, but Sweeney announced last week that the team would be keeping Julien. Neely said that he viewed Julien as one of the positives for the team this season.

“I thought he did a great job coaching this year,” Neely said. “It was a big transition year for him. Different player personnel than he’s accustomed to. We tried to integrate a lot of younger players and I think he did a good job with the roster. There’s areas where we can all still evolve and I think Claude is looking at that. I think he did a great job with some of circumstances that he had throughout the year, so when Don said he wanted to keep Claude, I had no problem with that at all.”

Added Neely: “We have conversations throughout the year, and there wasn’t really a point of saying, ‘I want to bring him back.’ It was he wasn’t doing anything differently. Ultimately, that’s Don’s decision. If he comes to me and says, ‘Listen, I think we need to make a change here,’ I’ve got to go on his recommendation because he’s the one who deals with the coach on a daily basis.”

The Bruins fired assistant coach Doug Houda and the futures of Joe Sacco and Doug Jarvis, neither of whom have contracts, are up in the air. Neely said it was too early to rule out a return for Jarvis and Sacco, adding that Sweeney and Julien would interview assistant coaching candidates in short order.

“Don’s still working through that,” Neely said. “I think he’s got some people in place that he wants to get together with and interview, along with Claude. Obviously it’s a collaborative effort. Don’s out scouting right now, but I know when he gets back he’s going to sit down with Claude and they’re going to go over some names.”

Jeremy Jacobs gives Cam Neely vote of confidence

04.20.16 at 11:29 am ET
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As expected, Bruins owner Jeremy Jacobs attended Wednesday’s press conference with CEO Charlie Jacobs and Cam Neely. Since becoming CEO during the 2014-15 season, Charlie Jacobs had taken over many of the media responsibilities of his father.

Rumor had it that Jeremy Jacobs was not happy with the Bruins’ situation after missing the playoffs in two straight seasons, but the longtime owner gave Neely and his staff a vote of confidence Wednesday.

“He’s my leader right now and I ride with him,” Jacobs said.

Jacobs added that Neely, who played 10 seasons of a Hall of Fame career for the Jacobs-owned Bruins, deserves ample time to try to correct the organization’s path.

“Absolutely. He is the personality that I’m looking forward to seeing,” Jacobs said. “He’s got a clear deck right now to do it.

“He had a difficult year last year, but it wasn’t unanticipated in my mind. They said it would be rocky and it was. And it was disappointing in the end.”

Neely has been the team’s president since the 2010-11 season.

Bruins prospect Jeremy Lauzon suffers neck laceration

04.16.16 at 12:22 am ET
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One of the Bruins’ most promising players selected in the 2015 draft suffered a frightening injury Friday night.

Though he was the Bruins’ sixth selection (52nd overall), defenseman Jeremy Lauzon may have jumped ahead of some of his draft classmates thanks to a strong season in the QMJHL. His playoffs with the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies were put on hold, however, when he took a skate to the neck Friday. Lauzon, who was bleeding heavily, was rushed to the hospital.

TSN’s Bob McKenzie reported after the game that Lauzon had suffered a neck laceration and required surgery.

Lauzon is the second Bruins prospect in a matter of months to suffer an injury in the neck area. Malcolm Subban’s regular season was cut short when he took a puck to the throat and required surgery on his larynx back in February.

Matt Beleskey, Torey Krug might need surgery

04.14.16 at 11:43 pm ET
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Matt Beleskey

Matt Beleskey

Bruins general manager Don Sweeney said at Thursday’s press conference that in addition to David Krejci, who is having hip surgery to fix a femoroacetabular impingement, two other Bruins are possibilities to have surgery this offseason.

Sweeney noted that Matt Beleskey (hand) and Torey Krug (shoulder) could require procedures. Krug missed only one game all season, while Beleskey missed two.

“Matt Beleskey had a hand injury that he’s taking care of,” Sweeney said. “Torey has a shoulder that we’re continuing to evaluate. There’s a possibility there as well, a strong possibility.”

Krejci’s surgery will be done by Brian Kelly, who has previously done hip surgeries for Krejci and Tim Thomas.

“He feels good that this will be done, it will be behind him, and he will be arguably a top center again in the league,” Sweeney said of Krejci. “We feel great about that. To have that one-two punch for us is really important.”

Frank Vatrano shares AHL’s most outstanding rookie award

04.14.16 at 4:11 pm ET
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Bruins forward Frank Vatrano was named a co-recipient of the Dudley Garrett Memorial Award as the AHL’s most outstanding rookie for the 2015-16 season.

Vatrano split the award with Avalanche prospect and 2015 10th overall pick Mikko Rantanen, who had more points than Vatrano but played far more games. Rantanen had 24 goals and 36 assists for 60 points in 51 games, while Vatrano led the AHL with 34 goals despite playing in only 34 games. Vatrano added 17 assists for a total of 51 points.

The first-year pro and East Longmeadow native played more NHL games than AHL games this season, as he scored eight goals and added three assists for 11 points in 39 games for Boston.

Don Sweeney: ‘I don’t believe we need a major overhaul’

04.14.16 at 2:01 pm ET
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Don Sweeney

Don Sweeney

Speaking at Thursday’s press conference, Bruins general manager Don Sweeney said he did not intend to make drastic changes to the Bruins’ roster.

Sweeney, who will enter his second offseason as Bruins general manager, said his priority is to add to what the Bruins have rather than rapidly shipping players out. The Bruins currently have 11 NHL players under contract for next season.

“I don’t believe we need a major overhaul,” Sweeney said. “I believe we need to continue to forge depth in the organization. When you go through these times where you have injuries and you have players that have to be able to step in, you have to have a plan that allows players to develop at the right time that they’re supposed rather than force a player. At times, when you don’t have the depth overall, you can expose a younger player. We’d like to have the patience in that regard.

“People talk about young player integration. David Pastrnak’s a great example of a player that we’re going to have a tremendous amount of patience with and Claude has patience with. [He’s] a very exciting player, a big part of our organization going forward and we need to make sure that we’re developing him in the right manner.”

Sweeney did not say whether he intended to part with any of the Bruins’ free agents. The GM said he discussed each of their futures in the team’s recent exit meetings, but declined to reveal whether he’d told them anything definitive. He did reiterate his preference to sign Loui Eriksson and said he did not regret keeping the player at the trade deadline.

On the subject of buyouts, Sweeney said he would be willing to use them. Jimmy Hayes, for whom the Bruins traded Reilly Smith last offseason, could be a candidate to be bought out of his contract.

“From a buyout perspective, I think everything in the CBA up and down will be at our disposal,” Sweeney said. “The ownership has been very supportive of what we need to do [and] continue to do going forward, and if that’s part of it, that’s part of it. We just need to continue to get better.”

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Claude Julien: Starting with new team might have been ‘easier,’ but ‘that’s not what I want’

04.14.16 at 11:20 am ET
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Claude Julien

Claude Julien

Claude Julien returning to the Bruins wasn’t just about the organization deciding to keep their head coach for a 10th season. It was also about Julien’s willingness to return to the organization rather than seek a new gig.

Though it might have been difficult logistically given that he still has two more years left on his contract, Julien and the organization could have decided a parting was in both parties’ best interests. That would have freed Julien up to head to fill the head coaching vacancy in Ottawa, where Julien grew up.

Julien explained in Thursday’s press conference that his preference was to remain with Boston in an effort to get the team back to the playoffs after two consecutive ninth-place finishes.

“I did a self-evaluation,” Julien said. “[I considered], ‘Do I still have the ear of the dressing room? Are they still hearing?’ All that stuff that you go through. Even in my regard, being here nine years and everything else. Everything that came out of it, by the time I was done [with] my evaluation when I met with Don on Sunday morning was I want to be here, I want to bring this team back to where we once had it. I know that there’s some bumps along the way.

“There’s no doubt — I’m going to be honest with you — would it have been easier for me to go somewhere else and say that I’m going to go somewhere fresh and start? That’s not what I want. To me, this organization’s been good to me. They’ve been loyal to me. Like I said before: I love the city, I love our fans. I love just the environment here. You want to be somewhere where people are really passionate about the game. There’s a lot of people here, including players, that have helped me become the coach that I am.

“I don’t want to be that guy that bails just because all of a sudden you hit a bump in the road. I want to be that guy that perserveres. Things that went through my mind are, it’s OK to be remembered right now [as] the winningest coach in Bruins history, but I’d rather be remembered for a guy who had enough character to go back into the trenches and dig his heels in and help turn this organization around vs. the other way that could have been.

“I was pretty clear with Donnie on that front and now it was up to Don to tell me what his thoughts were. Obviously we have very similar thoughts and it was great to hear earlier that I still had his support and that he still believed that I was the guy. That’s why I’m still here today.”

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