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Ex-Bruin Vladimir Ruzicka denies accusations of impropriety but resigns as Czech coach

06.10.15 at 12:03 pm ET
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Vladimir Ruzicka (Dave Sandford/Getty Images)

Former Bruin Vladimir Ruzicka, shown here coaching the Czech Republic in 2004, resigned after being accused of accepting bribes. (Dave Sandford/Getty Images)

Vladimir Ruzicka, who was serving as coach of the Czech Republic hockey team, resigned Tuesday in light of bribery allegations brought forth by parents who said that the former Bruins center demanded money to allow their sons a chance to play while he was coaching the Slavia Prague team of the Czech Extraliga.

“I’ve never done anything illegal and I will continue to defend myself, to clear my name,” Ruzicka said in a statement released by his lawyer.

Ruzicka allegedly accepted a bribe of 500,000 Czech koruna, which equates to about $20,000, during the 2012-13 season. The money came in two portions from entrepreneur Miroslav Palascak, who said in April that he gave the money in exchange for Ruzicka keeping his son on the team.

Ruzicka said in April that he thought the money was a donation to the team and returned it because of his own concerns, even releasing a statement to defend himself.

On Tuesday, more allegations emerged from other parents who told similar stories, and police are investigating.

The president of the Czech ice hockey federation, Tomas Kral, told state television that the sole solution to the claims were to have Ruzicka resign.

Ruzicka played three seasons in Boston from 1990-93 and recorded 66 goals and 66 assists in 166 regular season games. He added 18 points in 30 postseason games.

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Claude Julien wants to stay with Bruins as long as he’s wanted

06.10.15 at 11:29 am ET
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Claude Julien will coach a ninth season with the Bruins. (Joel Auerbach/Getty Images)

Claude Julien will coach a ninth season with the Bruins. (Joel Auerbach/Getty Images)

WILMINGTON — Claude Julien said Wednesday that the Bruins did not give him permission to talk to other teams and that he didn’€™t necessarily want it.

That’€™s a lot of faith to have in the Bruins keeping him, but Julien said his impression throughout his two-month stay in coaching purgatory was that he would be back with the Bruins.

“The impression I got from the get-go was that they were hoping to keep me and it was going to depend on the new GM,” Julien said. “And I agree: As much as you want the new GM to be comfortable with his guy, it’s the same thing. If the new GM doesn’t like me as a coach, I don’t want to be here either.

“I understood that right from the get-go when Peter was let go. Basically, I was waiting to see if that was going to be a good match and it turned out to be.”

The fact that new general manager Don Sweeney took as long as he did to make a decision on Julien suggests he could be on a short leash. Julien said he feels good about his job security based on philosophical similarities with Sweeney.

“I know a lot of speculations have been made on whether this is temporary or whatever it is,” Julien said. “But we’re really committed and determined to take this team and move forward in the right directions. Don and I have had talks and have a very, very similar outlook on what’s needed and what we want to do. There was never an issue there at all. That’s why it’s worked out. We seemed to be seeing the same things.”

Jukuen said he intends to make adjustments to his coaching style, but that he intended to do that anyway, noting that he and his assistants met two days after the season to outline their intended changes.

When pressed on what those changes were, Julien said pretty much the same thing that Peter Chiarelli said before being fired and Sweeney said after being hired: transition the puck better.

“There are things we feel we can do with the way the game has changed a little bit to help out transition game a little better,’€ Julien said. ‘€œThere was a time when our transition game was good with the way teams were forechecking.

“Teams’€™ forechecking has changed a lot so there are thing we feel we can do with our transition game that we feel we can do a lot better with creating some speed. We had already kind of addressed that and we’re going to introduce that into camp like we do every year. To me, those aren’t changes. Those are adjustments like we do every year.”

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Claude Julien says he feels safe working for Cam Neely

06.10.15 at 10:39 am ET
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WILMINGTON — Claude Julien is back for a ninth season as Bruins coach, and he said Wednesday at Ristuccia Arena that he doesn’t feel his status is temporary.

Furthermore, he said he feels safe working for B’s president Cam Neely, who has reportedly wanted to fire him in the past. The Boston Globe reported after the season that Neely wanted to relieve the coach in January.

“That’€™s what’€™s been out there. Is it the truth? That’€™s the biggest question,” Julien said of Neely wanting him gone.

Neely infamously said years ago that the Bruins can’t win games by a 0-0 score, something that was perceived as a shot at Julien. Both he and Julien say they’ve moved past that comment — Julien even noted they go out for drinks — but that isn’t what’s in question. What’s in question is whether Neely is going to want Julien gone again at some point.

“I think it’€™s foolish to think that a president is just hovering over a coach’€™s head, waiting [to] fire him,” Julien said. “He’€™s had the power, I guess, to do that, and he didn’€™t. I think right there and then, it’€™s got to tell you something. It’€™s not an issue for me.”

More to come from Julien.

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How Victor Hedman plays into Dougie Hamilton conversation

06.09.15 at 1:06 pm ET
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Victor Hedman has become elite. (Mike Carlson/Getty Images)

Will Dougie Hamilton continue to follow Victor Hedman’s career path?           (Mike Carlson/Getty Images)

Victor Hedman has most definitely arrived. His sixth season in the NHL, despite an injury detour early in the season, has cemented his status as one of the top defensemen in the league. The Bruins could use someone like that, and they can only hope Dougie Hamilton becomes such an impact player.

They can do more than hope, actually. They can look at the players’ career paths and project accordingly.

Like Hamilton, Hedman is a big, skilled, offensively creative defenseman whose detractors note a lack of physicality. He was also a top prospect in his draft (second overall in 2009).

Hedman’s bigger than Hamilton; he’s 6-foot-6 and, after coming into the league at 220 pounds, is now listed at 230 pounds. Hamilton is 6-foot-5 and 212 pounds. He could stand to continue to bulk up.

Yet where Hamilton has Hedman — and pretty much everyone — is how his career has begun. If Hamilton has reached his ceiling, he’ll be a solid player who has a solid career. There’s little reason to think that, however, as he has outperformed plenty of great defensemen who ascended to stardom after their first three seasons.

Back in April, we compared Hamilton to P.K. Subban, Drew Doughty, Oliver Ekman-Larsson and Alex Pietrangelo, looking at the how they performed in their entry-level contracts and noting the contracts those players got. Given that Hedman has become one of the top young blueliners in the game, it’s worth revisiting with his numbers as well.

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Read More: Dougie Hamilton, Drew Doughty, P.K. Subban, Victor Hedman

Bruins won’t bring back Carl Soderberg

06.08.15 at 12:14 pm ET
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Carl Soderberg

Carl Soderberg

Carl Soderberg’€™s time with the Bruins is done, as agent J.P. Barry confirmed a Boston Globe report that the team will not be making an offer to the 29-year-old center.

The Bruins don’t have much wiggle room given their salary cap situation. As such, they informed Barry that they won’t be able to make the player a legitimate offer given their current status. Boston’s next move regarding Soderberg should be to trade his rights to a team hoping to sign him before free agency begins. Teams typically receive draft pick compensation in such moves.

Soderberg played out the final year of a three-year, $3.025 million contract with the Bruins and will become a free agent on July 1. He will be considered among the best free-agent centers available, along with Chicago’s Antoine Vermette.

With Soderberg gone, Ryan Spooner will become the favorite to slide into the vacancy at third line center. Alexander Khokhlachev also figures to be in the mix.

In 161 career regular season games with the Bruins, Soderberg scored 29 goals and added 65 assists for 94 points. He had one goal and five assists for six points in 14 playoff games.

Soderberg intends to keep playing in the NHL rather than return to Sweden, where he played for his entire career before finally coming to the NHL in 2013.

In other Bruins news, the team announced the signing of Providence College center Noel Acciari on Monday. For more on Acciari, click here.

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Poll: Were Bruins right to retain Claude Julien?

06.05.15 at 12:37 pm ET
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New Bruins general manager Don Sweeney announced Friday that Claude Julien will return for his ninth season behind the bench, despite the team’s disappointing 2014-15 season that ended with no postseason. Do you agree with Sweeney’s move?

Do you agree with the Bruins' decision to retain Claude Julien?

  • Yes (77%, 364 Votes)
  • No (23%, 108 Votes)

Total Voters: 472

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Don Sweeney confirms Claude Julien will return as Bruins coach

06.05.15 at 10:19 am ET
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Meeting with the media at the NHL scouting combine in Buffalo on Friday, new general manager Don Sweeney confirmed that coach Claude Julien and his staff will return next season.

Julien’s status had been in question since the Bruins failed to make the playoffs and Peter Chiarelli was fired as GM. Although Julien is starting a three-year contract extension he signed in November of last year, there was some concern that the team was no longer responding to him and it might be time for a change from Julien’s defense-oriented approach.

When he was introduced as GM last month, Sweeney said he planned to meet with Julien to discuss the disappointing season and what changes might need to be made. Sweeney said Friday that he did not speak to any other coaching candidates before deciding to stick with Julien and his staff.

“I needed to have conversations with each and every [coach] to know we were in agreement,” Sweeney told reporters Friday. “I’m not going to apologize for taking a little time to go through the process.”

Julien, 55, has a 351-192-79 record in eight seasons in Boston. He guided the Bruins to a championship in 2011 and another Stanley Cup Final appearance two years later.

Read More: Claude Julien, Don Sweeney,
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