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Why Claude Julien is a perfect fit for the Bruins

07.24.12 at 3:49 pm ET


There are plenty of reasons Peter Chiarelli and Bruins management decided to extend the contract of Claude Julien this week.

First of all, his contract was expired after last season.

Secondly, no one else since Harry Sinden has been behind the bench as the Bruins won the Stanley Cup.

And thirdly, no one is more respected for his ability to blend character, discipline and humor the way Julien has since taking over for Dave Lewis after the 2006-07 season.

There’s another much more subtle reason to keep Julien behind the bench for the Black and Gold – stability. Should the Bruins and the rest of the NHL not figure out their pending labor issues by the Sept. 15 deadline, the season could easily be shortened, and like the NFL and NBA in 2011, teams may have to wing it to get their teams ready for competition.

No one knows more what he wants or expects from the Bruins than Julien.

“The one thing you try to do as a coach is keep things fresh,” Julien said at his contract extension press conference at TD Garden Tuesday. “Every year you try to attack certain areas that will maybe change just a little bit that will give guys a fresher look. That’s how you keep your team interested, intact and hopefully competitive.”

To Chiarelli, what he sees is a coach over five years that hasn’t just won a Stanley Cup, he’s instilled just the right amount of discipline, walking that fine line between motivation and expectation from his players.

“Leadership in a coach manifests itself different ways with different people,” Chiarelli said. “To me, I like to talk about a coach’s persona. His person in a venue like this [press conference] and his persona in the room. It’s about commanding respect. It’s about motivating the players in a respectful way and a professional way. It’s about the ideas, the formats, the approaches. It’s all professional, it’s all to an end. There’s a plan.

“Claude’s ability to have that persona and have players respect what he stands for and to be able to deliver that message in a way that engages them, that’s what I see as leadership and that’s what Claude has, and a large part of that leadership is character.”

For Julien, there have been rocky times to be sure. Remember the May 13, 2010 when the Flyers completed their comeback from 3-0 down to eliminate the Bruins? Remember in their Cup run of 2011 when P.K. Subban scored to force overtime in Game 7 in the first round. If the Bruins don’t win that game, it’s a near certainty that Julien is not up on the dais Tuesday talking about his vision for the Bruins. Even this year, when the Bruins were fading a bit in the final two months of the season, falling from first to third in the East, there were whispers that players were tuning out Julien.

Still, Julien stuck to his guns.

“One thing I’ve always believed in is the fine line that exists between respect and authority,” Julien said. “And I think respect goes both ways. I think with our players, it’s pretty obvious I have respect for them and they seem to have respect for me. Yet, when it’s time to put your foot down and show some authority, because you’ve accomplished that, there’s belief, and I think our guys believe in what we’re trying to do.

“There’s times where I’m certainly able to walk around the room and joke around with the players and have a little fun with them but there’s also that time when game time comes around, it’s about business and we’re able to turn that switch on to that authority part and the respect that I think is extremely important. That still exists to this day in this dressing room, and I realize as a coach when you’ve been here for five years and you’re going to be here for more, you have to continue to make that thing happen and that’s a challenge I take on every year and that I’ve been able to maintain.”

Read More: Boston Bruins, Claude Julien, Dave Lewis, Harry Sinden
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