|Claude Julien says he feels safe working for Cam Neely||06.10.15 at 10:39 am ET|
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.
|Cam Neely mum on final say, seeks better president-GM communication with Don Sweeney||05.20.15 at 3:36 pm ET|
After the Bruins introduced Don Sweeney as the team’s next general manager, Neely stressed the importance of communication in the front office, prompting a question as to whether he felt he and Chiarelli communicated as well as they would have liked.
“The communication could have been better,” Neely answered.
Chiarelli was the GM before Neely was president, but Chiarelli’s success prevented Neely from picking his own guy until the Bruins missed the playoffs this season.
Given that Sweeney is both a former teammate of Neely’s and the general manager of Neely’s choosing, the working relationship between he and Neely figures to be better. He claimed that his friendship with Sweeney did not take priority over the qualifications of other candidates.
“I’ve been president of the Bruins since 2010,” Neely said. “I have not hired a friend.”
Neely repeatedly deflected questions about who gets final say on player personnel, but noted he doesn’t want to do his general manager’s job.
“I’ve made it very clear: I’m not a GM. I don’t want to be a GM,” Neely said. “I want the GM to do the job, but I want to know what’s going on. I don’t know how much more clear I can be with that. If the GM wants to push and fight and say ‘This is the right thing,’ then I’ll sit down and listen. I want to have conversations. My door is always open.”
Neely was then asked who’s responsible for the moves the team makes, whether good or bad. He said that the president should take responsibility, but still avoided whether he makes the final decision. Asked who makes the call when the hockey operations department is split on a decision, he responded “tie goes to the runner.”
“Then who’s the runner?” multiple media members asked.
“Ultimately, if Don feels strongly about something, I’ve got to allow him to do his job,” Neely said, “but if I feel strongly about something then I’ll let him know. But this total autonomy thing, since I became president in 2010, it’s been [considered] a big deal, and I don’t get it. I really don’t.”
The Bruins fired Chiarelli on April 15. He has since taken over the Oilers as team president and GM. Because he had term on his contract that the Bruins would pay had he not found work elsewhere, the Bruins can seek draft pick compensation from the Oilers. Neely confirmed the Bruins are seeking a pick from the Oilers, which would be a second-round pick in one of the next three drafts. The Oilers get to pick which year they give up the pick, making it unlikely that they’ll part with the third pick of the second round in this June’s draft.
|Claude Julien’s fate with Bruins still undecided||at 3:01 pm ET|
While the Bruins now officially have a general manager, the situation with their head coach remains unclear.
Speaking at his introductory press conference, Boston GM Don Sweeney would not confirm whether he intends to retain or fire Claude Julien. The Bruins gave their final two general manager candidates the opportunity to meet with Julien, something Sweeney did earlier this month. Sweeney also spoke to Julien upon being promoted on Wednesday.
Both Sweeney and Julien were at a number of Providence Bruins games down the stretch as well.
“I have some things that I want to sit down with Claude and go through in a very orderly fashion,” Sweeney said. “As to where I think things need to change and to what direction we need to change as a group, and also acknowledged to Claude during this whole process that I think tremendously as a coach and as a person. It’s just about lining up philosophical approaches that I believe in, that he believes in and that we can move the group forward.
“Some of that will involve personnel decisions. Some of that will involve staff member decisions and/or changes. That’s to be determined. He’s the coach of the Boston Bruins as of today. That’s for sure.”
Speaking after the press conference, B’s president Cam Neely spoke highly of Julien and downplayed the belief that he has wanted to fire Julien at multiple points during his time as team president.
“Let me be clear. I think we have a good coach,” Neely said. “I know it’s been reported that we have a problem with our coach. I think over the years I would have liked to see some adjustments, but it wasn’t about [seeing] certain coaches available. For me, it was about making sure we were making the right decision with our GM first and then we’ll go from there.
Asked whether he felt Julien could change with the organization as it tweaks its approach to winning, Neely was noncommittal.
“He’s another smart hockey guy. He knows the game extremely well,” Neely said. “He’s had a lot of success. This is where Don is going to make those decisions with Claude as far as the adjustments that he thinks we need to make.
“This comment that I made in 2010 about [how] we can’t win games, 0-0, keeps getting played. Claude and I flushed that out in 2010. It’s 2015 now.”
Julien has been Boston’s head coach for eight seasons, reaching the postseason for seven consecutive years prior to this season. His 351 wins with the B’s put him 10 wins away from tying Art Ross for the most wins in Bruins history.
The pool of top coaching candidates has thinned, most recently with Mike Babcock‘s decision to coach the Leafs on Wednesday.
|Cam Neely admits he wants a voice but adds, ‘I don’t want to be a general manager’||04.16.15 at 7:52 am ET|
There was some speculation in the immediate aftermath of Peter Chiarelli’s firing Wednesday that Cam Neely might assume the role and add the general manager’s title onto his existing role of team president.
While team CEO Charlie Jacobs admitted that hockey operations will, for now, report directly to Neely, the team president said he wants no part of the gig long term.
“I’m not a micromanager and I don’t want to be a general manager,” Neely announced. “I want to have a vision, I want to understand what the vision of a general manager is going to be for the hockey club, obviously, as we move forward. I felt that I was able to have conversations and express my opinions. I felt that I was able to do that the last four or five years’six years. But as far as’I’m not a micromanager and I don’t intend to be.”
Neely did offer a critique of where he thinks the team might have gone astray over the last four seasons since winning the Cup in 2011, especially as it relates to drafting new talent.
“We have to look at the organization as a whole obviously and today’s day and age with the game and the cap and a team that is fortunate enough to spend to the cap,” Neely said. “As you have success and those players get better and you have to pay them more, you need those entry-level players to come in and be able to have an impact. It’s expensive to always get ready made players.
“It’s a nice luxury to be able to have but when you don’t have the cap space to be able to do that, you’ve got to find entry-level players. I think there was a period of time there where’I don’t think I’m saying anything that hasn’t been chronicled’we missed on three or four years on some drafts that I think right now we’re kind of paying the price for. That’s not the sole reason but that’s an area where I think we can improve.”
Neely was asked if he had input or final authorization on moves that might have led the Bruins away from a tougher on-ice image that he has preferred ever since his playing days.
“Like I said I’m not going to micromanage a GM. I want him to do his job,” Neely said. “I certainly want to have conversations about why and what the thought process is to make particular deals and trades and how that is going to look for the franchise, not just when it happens but also moving forward. The other thing to your second question, I think where we’ve had success is our four lines play hard. That’s doesn’t mean you can’t have skill and play hard. It’s something where ‘is it easy to find?’ No, but I think I’d like to see us get back to playing hard and where the team plays for each other. I think we lost that a little bit.”
|Cam Neely says next general manager will decide Claude Julien’s fate||04.15.15 at 4:57 pm ET|
While Peter Chiarelli’s fate is known, Claude Julien‘s isn’t.
Cam Neely and Charlie Jacobs said in Wednesday’s press conference that a decision has still not been made on whether Julien will be kept or fired. Neely made it clear that just because Julien hasn’t been fired yet, it doesn’t mean he won’t be.
“It hasn’t fully been made,’ Neely said of the decision. “We met with Claude this morning, Charlie and I. We told him that we really believe that once we go through the exhaustive search to find the next general manager, we will leave it up to that GM to decide what he wants to do on our coaching staff. Claude certainly understood that, but that’s where we left it.”
If the Bruins wait to fire Julien, the coach could miss out on other jobs. Julien signed a multi-year extension with the Bruins prior to this season and, if fired, would be paid it until he got a new job.
As such, there would be no incentive for Julien to quit while in limbo.
“We told him the situation and we asked him, and he said, ‘I signed a contract to coach here and I want to coach here,’ so he made that clear when he left,” Neely said. “We had planned to meet with him in the next couple days to sit down about the season and talk to him about this past season. That’s next on our agenda with Claude.”
Asked whether the Bruins would consider “trading” Julien for draft picks, Neely said the team had yet to consider it.
For more Bruins news, visit weei.com/bruins.
|Cam Neely knows money will still be tight with salary cap increase||12.10.14 at 5:24 pm ET|
When the Board of Governors projected a $73 million salary cap for next season, it looked to be good and bad news for the Bruins: good because it’s higher than the current $69 million mark and bad because it isn’t even higher.
Those seemed to be Cam Neely‘s thoughts Wednesday, as the Bruins president answered a question about the anticipated bump by smiling and quipping, “it’s better than 69 [million].”
The projected cap, which is contingent on the Canadian dollar staying the same, will make it easier for the Bruins to keep their team together, but not much. The idea of adding key players in free agency will be out of the question, but then again it generally has been for a few years now, with the exception of the incentive-laden deal given two summers ago to Jarome Iginla.
Not counting Marc Savard, the Bruins have $49,897,857 committed against the cap to 10 players for next season. Dougie Hamilton and Carl Soderberg lead the list of players due for raises from their current cap hits, though Torey Krug and Reilly Smith can also expect pay bumps after playing this season for $1.4 million apiece.
“When you’re a team that spends up to the cap and you are spending to the cap and you are into LTI, there’s a lot of discussions and conversations and pencils and erasers that have to be in play,” Neely said. “Fortunately, Charlie and Mr. Jacobs give us the opportunity to spend to the cap. Until they say we’re not, we’re going to continue to try and put the best team on the ice. Having said that, it’s easy to spend money; you’ve just got to spend it properly.”
Agent J.P. Barry told WEEI.com last month he had yet to begin serious negations with the B’s regarding new deals for Hamilton and Soderberg, both of whom he represents. The holdup was due to the league not knowing where the cap would be next year, so perhaps the ball could get rolling soon with the clarity recently presented.
All that said, the $73 million figure is not set in stone.
“Based on what we’re hearing, it’s all based upon the Canadian dollar,” Neely said. “They have a pretty good idea of the revenues that are coming in. It’s just a matter of Canadian revenues and what happens with the Canadian dollar. It gives us a pretty good idea of where we’re going to end up, but if we’re going to err, we should err on the lower side.”
The Bruins broke ground on their new practice facility, which will be called Warrior Ice Arena, on Wednesday. Cam Neely, Charlie Jacobs, Peter Chiarelli, Mayor Marty Walsh and New Balance chairman Jim Davis were among those on hand for the event.
Warrior Ice Arena, which will be located in Brighton as part of New Balance’s Boston Landing project, is expected to open in September of 2016. The Bruins will continue to practice at Ristuccia Arena in Wilmington until then.
That’s great news for the Bruins, eventually. Though both Neely and Jacobs thanked Ristuccia at every opportunity Wednesday, Ristuccia is not an NHL-caliber practice facility. Furthermore, its location is inconvenient to Boston.
The Bruins don’t have many things on which they can’t sell players. They’re a winning organization, they have a good coach, they spend to the cap annually and they have people in the front office who players throughout the league respect. Their practice facility, on paper, is really their only clear shortcoming when it comes to places to play for prospective free agents.
“I really think it means a lot to players. It means a lot to the organization and to the players,” Jacobs said. “What I mean by the players is if I’m one of them — Big Zee, Looch or Seth Griffith or whoever it is – you’re doing that grind of back and forth to the rink. Likewise, on an off day when the Celtics may be playing or there’s an event in the building, you’re out here. It means a lot to have a shorter commute.
“It makes life a lot easier, as we probably all are aware, but then you think about courting potential free agents. To be able to take them to not only the Garden and show them the work we’ve done there, but say, ‘Hey, listen. Come check out our practice facility,’ that’s a big selling point for a lot of clubs. It should be one for Boston’s and it will be very soon.”
Both Neely and Jacobs said that the team’s priority was to build a new facility within Route 128, with Jacobs saying he was “over the moon” with how things fell together with New Balance. Jacobs added that he feels the Bruins will “set [an] industry standard in terms of amenities, technology and quality when it comes to this training facility.”