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Chiarelli: Firing Julien is “100 percent not possible”

03.20.09 at 12:49 pm ET
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WILMINGTON — Bruins General Manager Peter Chiarelli said that B’s coach Claude Julien’s job is safe under no uncertain terms despite the hockey team’s recent struggles. The Black and Gold are 3-5-1 during a miserable month of March, and have watched as teams like the Washington Capitals and New Jersey Devils have both closed to within five points of their Eastern Conference lead.

Despite some lackluster play – and the fact that Julien was given the gate just before the playoffs during his last job coaching the Devils in 2006-07 — the B’s bench boss isn’t going anywhere, and Chiarelli indicated that   

“(Julien getting fired) is 100 percent not possible,” said Chiarelli, speaking while his team practiced at Ristuccia Arena in Wilmington this afternoon. “That’s not possible.

“It’s really about work ethic and winning puck battles,” added Chiarelli. “That’s been a trademark of our team, but it definitely hasn’t been there in the last 15-20 games. There’s nothing magic to it. There has to be a better work ethic and we have to grind our way through it. We know that we can play at a level that will produce great results in this league, and we’ve got to get back to it. There’s an element of complacency with the players. It may be that they’re 98 percent ready to go, and there’s only 2 percent. But you have to be at 100 percent.”

Julien, however, stepped back a bit from hisearlier charge that his hockey club was routinely getting outworked and both coach and GM pointed toward a mental/confidence component to their game — many players simply aren’t as aggressive as they were in the first half of the year. The defenseman are playing too much East-West hockey rather than moving the puck North-South and straight up the ice, and there’s a tightness in the locker room that Julien and his staff are looking to alleviate.

Julien,  rather than putting his team through a bag skate, ran a scrimmage and shootout drill that he said was more competitive and better-played than the Thursday night game against the LA Kings.

“We’re going through a situation as a coaching staff where we’ve got to figure it out and help (the players) find their game,” said Julien. “We felt that our guys were wound up pretty tight. Our goal today was to loosen them up a little bit, and help them get their energy back. To tell you the truth, I thought our scrimmage today was better than our game (last night) and that tells me a lot.

“Certainly those guys, looking at it this morning, they’re feeling the pressure from everything and everybody around them,” added Julien. “They’re putting a lot of pressure on themselves to perform.  It’s not from lack of caring or a lack of wanting to do well. You can see it with our players. Our best players have to be our best players, and if they’re pressing then it just isn’t going to happen. At the same time, in order to outwork other teams you have to have fun and be relaxed. If you have that, you have the energy. Right now, we’re wound up so tight and it drains all the energy out of you.”

–Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli confirmed that Carl Soderberg won’t be coming to New England from his Swedish League team, Malmo, to get a taste of North American professional hockey with the Providence Bruins this spring. Bruins officials had hoped the 23-year-old forward Swedish Mystery Man might come over at end of the AHL season and participate in the playoffs — a development that have allowed the club to take a gander at the prospect they received in dealing Hannu Toivonen to the St. Louis Blues.

But no dice from Soderberg, who continues to seem very reluctant to leave his hometown of Malmo and appears much more interested in taking part in World Championship tryouts for the Swedish team.

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