Claude Julien already has his place in Bruins history
|07.24.12 at 7:21 am ET|
Claude Julien‘s stay in Boston has worked out pretty well, and to the surprise of no one, it isn’t over yet.
The Bruins announced Monday that they locked up the coach with a multi-year deal, with a press conference to take place Tuesday at TD Garden. With him will be Peter Chiarelli, the man who finally stopped the revolving door of Bruins coaches in 2007 and found the coach who could not only last more than a couple of seasons but could bring the Stanley Cup to Boston.
As far as Bruins coaches go, Julien, at 460 regular-season games coached, has a ways to go before catching Art Ross (728) and Milt Schmidt (726). Assuming he coaches every game this season, Julien will be at 542. Should he coach the following two seasons in Boston (after all, it’s a multi-year deal that will start in 2013-14), he’ll break the 700-game mark.
In many ways, Julien has perhaps been underappreciated in Boston. Though he may have once appeared to be the Marty Schottenheimer of the NHL for his ability to consistently get teams to the playoffs only to come up short in the postseason, he was there to lead the Bruins out of the mess they’d been in since the lockout and back to respectability.
In his first year on the job, Julien took Boston from a club that had previously finished 13th in the Eastern Conference to a playoff team. The Bruins grabbed the eighth and final playoff spot in 2007-08 and lost to Julien’s former team in the Canadiens, but it was the 2008-09 season — a campaign in which Julien picked up the Jack Adams Award for the league’s top coach — that things really stared to change in Boston. The B’s finished tops in the conference, and it was the first of three consecutive seasons in which the Bruins got past the first round. The last time the Bruins had accomplished such a feat was when they won at least a round in five straight playoffs from 1988 through 1992.
Julien’s crowning achievement, of course, was the 2010-11 season in which the Bruins beat the Canadiens, Flyers, Lightning and Canucks en route to hoisting the Stanley Cup. It seemed that Julien was criticized by select media and fans more than he’d ever been in that season. The Bruins were coming off an embarrassing playoff defeat in 2010 in which they’d blown a 3-0 series lead to the Flyers, and after they were blanked by Jonas Hiller and the Ducks at home on Dec. 20 of the 2010-11 season, it seemed hard to find a fan who didn’t want Chiarelli and Cam Neely to can the coach.
In the playoffs, Julien was scrutinized for his handling of Tyler Seguin. His sticking with Michael Ryder over the then-rookie proved to be right, as Ryder’s Game 4 performance (two goals, one of which was the game-winner in overtime, and an assist) tied the team’s first-round series with the Habs. Seguin shined when he finally got his turn in the Eastern Conference finals, but Julien’s handling of the situation was correct.
Julien definitely has faced some good ol’ fashioned Boston scrutiny thus far in Boston, but if his future with the B’s matches what he’s accomplished in the recent past, fans won’t have much to (logically) complain about.
Now if only they could do something about that power play …