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Here’s the letter Bruins sent season ticket-holders regarding Claude Julien 04.14.16 at 10:56 am ET
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Don Sweeney

Don Sweeney

Here is the letter sent to Bruins season ticket-holders Thursday announcing the return of Claude Julien for a 10th season:

Dear Valued Ticket Holders,

Like all of you, I am extremely disappointed with the outcome of this season. We set high expectations for ourselves, and we certainly realize that you as fans share the same set of high expectations. It is our responsibility to ice a Team that you are proud to support and one that contends for the Stanley Cup year in and year out. I fully understand that we did not meet these expectations this year and let you all down in the process.

There are a number of important matters to address this offseason, and I wanted to communicate our strategy surrounding a few of these matters directly to you. All of the respective decisions will be made with a singular objective in mind: to improve our club in both the short term and the long term.

The first involves our head coach. Claude Julien is our head coach and will be our head coach when we return to action in the fall. Claude’s record as the winningest coach in Bruins’ history speaks for itself, and he is fully committed to leading the Team back to being a Stanley Cup contender. We recognize there are areas of our game and our roster that need to be improved, and we firmly believe that Claude gives us the best chance at on-ice success in both the near and long term. We are confident in Claude’s ability to continue to make the necessary game adjustments while we work to develop players and re-shape our roster.  Read the rest of this entry »

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Claude Julien ‘absolutely’ will be back next season, changes to coaching staff coming at 10:14 am ET
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Claude Julien will be back as Bruins coach next season. (USA Today Sports)

Claude Julien will be back as Bruins coach next season. (Winslow Townson/USA Today Sports)

Claude Julien will be back as coach of the Bruins next season.

General manager Don Sweeney announced at the start of Thursday’s end of season press conference that Claude Julien “absolutely” will return.

The Bruins did not make the postseason each of the last two seasons.

Sweeney also announced assistant coach Doug Houda won’t return and other assistants’ deals are up with the exception of goalie coach Bob Essensa. He’s been the goalie coach since 2003.

Houda’s time with the Bruins predates that of Julien, as Houda served as an assistant coach under former B’s head coach Dave Lewis and was kept on after Lewis’ firing. As a player, Houda served as a teammate of Zdeno Chara when the two played for the Islanders.

Other coaches who won’t return are Doug Jarvis and Joe Sacco.

Jarvis was hired prior to the 2010-11 season as a replacement for Craig Ramsay. As a player, Jarvis holds the record for most consecutive games played with 964. Sacco, who formerly served as head coach of the Avalanche and was also an assistant coach for the Sabres, replaced former B’s assistant coach Geoff Ward in the summer of 2014 when Ward left the team to take a head-coaching job in Germany. Ward is currently an assistant coach for the Devils.

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Bruins blame pie: Patrice Bergeron says it’s ‘definitely not on’ Claude Julien 04.09.16 at 7:13 pm ET
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Debate over whether Claude Julien should be fired has already begun. (USA Today Sports)

Debate over whether Claude Julien should be fired already has begun. (Winslow Townson/USA Today Sports)

The “Should Claude Julien be fired” talk had already begun even before Saturday, but with the Bruins missing the playoffs for a second straight year and getting absolutely embarrassed on home ice in their season finale, it’s only going to pick up.

Most Bruins players weren’t willing to make any sort of comment on the possibility of Julien being fired after Saturday’s 6-1 loss to the Senators given that, at the time, the B’s still had an outside shot of making the playoffs (the Flyers’ win over the Penguins later Saturday officially sealed their fate). But the team’s best and most important player came to the defense of Julien.

“I’ve said a million times that Claude has been the best coach I’ve had,” said Patrice Bergeron. “It’s definitely not on him. It should be on us. His system is there, the game plan is there. It’s about us executing, and we didn’t do that. So it should fall back on the players.”

In the case of Saturday and other games down the stretch that saw the Bruins lose to non-playoff teams, Bergeron is right that the players deserve a good chunk of the blame. There’s no excuse for making the kinds of defensive mistakes that led to Ottawa’s goals on Saturday. There’s no excuse for a top-five offense struggling to score against three non-playoff teams over the last two weeks of the season. Regardless of who the coach is or whether his message is getting through, those are things for which the players need to take responsibility.

But there is plenty of blame to go around, and yes, Julien deserves some of it. A coach should be able to do more to ensure that his team isn’t making as many mistakes as the Bruins made Saturday, whether it was getting beat wide, leaving guys uncovered in front or making bad breakout passes that were easily intercepted. Those things are coachable, and the fact that they happened this late in the season doesn’t reflect well on the coach.

The group that deserves the most blame, however, is the front office. Don Sweeney and company are the ones who built a team that had one legitimate top-four defenseman — and that one, Zdeno Chara, is 39 years old. It’s fitting that defense was the Bruins’ biggest issue on their disastrous last day, because it was their biggest issue all season, and it will remain their biggest issue going forward unless they bring in multiple defensemen who are significant upgrades over what they have now.

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Best defense for Bruins down stretch might be strong offense 04.05.16 at 12:58 pm ET
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Ryan Spooner wants to avoid a run-and-gun game. (Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images)

Ryan Spooner wants to avoid a run-and-gun game. (Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images)

Even at less than 100 percent, Kevan Miller’s expected return to the Bruins’ lineup Tuesday will help improve the defense from what it was on Sunday. With Dennis Seidenberg still out, the B’s need whatever they can get to avoid the issues they had when trying to defend the Hawks of the first 40 minutes of their final road game.

So with Colin Miller also entering the lineup, it’s natural to wonder whether the youngster’s return is a step in the right direction for the Bruins defensively.

It isn’t, but then again they weren’t going to much better off with Joe Morrow or Zach Trotman in the lineup instead of him. If the younger Miller can bring his skating and offensive ability, it will be worth what he lacks in his own end.

This is because the banged-up Bruins aren’t positioned to defend particularly well one through six. The offense, however, can be a strength after recently bouncing back from its most dormant 10-game period of the season. It might need to be if the Bruins want to avoid missing the postseason for a second straight year.

“The offense is there right now again,” Claude Julien said Tuesday morning. “We just have to tighten up a little bit defensively, which we’ve gone through a couple of times this year. We’ve gotten loose a little bit and then we’ve tightened it up and when we’ve tightened it up we’ve been able to have success, so if we can tighten it up tonight and continue to take advantage of our opportunities to score, that should help our chances quite a bit.”

Coming off a road trip that saw the B’s score 10 goals and allow 11, they will look for similar offense in the season’s final three games while crossing their fingers on the health and play of the defense improving. That might mean some high-scoring games, which are not the type Claude Julien teams have been known for playing.

“I think we can. I don’t think that we want to,” Ryan Spooner said of winning potential track meets. “If you look at our team, just this team as a whole in the past 10 years, they’ve taken a lot of pride in being a good defensive team first. I think if you ask all the guys in the room, they would rather win a game 2-1 or 3-2 than they would 6-5. At this time of the year, you don’t want to get into those run-and-gun matches.”  Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Claude Julien, Ryan Spooner,
Bruins not thinking about repercussions of missing playoffs 04.04.16 at 1:55 pm ET
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Claude Julien

Claude Julien

The Bruins might not even need to win all three of their games this week. The Red Wings are mediocre enough that it would be a surprise if they came into Boston Thursday having not lost to the Flyers the night earlier.

Yet whether it means winning two games or winning three, the Bruins need to do whatever is required of them to make the playoffs this week. If not, an organization that already needed changes might make more drastic ones. Even if he isn’t a primary reason for the Bruins’ situation, Claude Julien could be an obvious fall guy.

“We’re not even there,” Julien said of the idea of missing the postseason. “We don’t even talk about that.”

Julien is in his ninth season with the Bruins. Players like Zdeno Chara (10 years) and Dennis Seidenberg (seven years) have been around to see much better days in their time with the B’s. The Bruins’ recent era of dominance essentially ended when Johnny Boychuk was traded ahead of last season, but the longer-tenured Bruins who have won before feel they can win again in Boston.

“We look at the next game tomorrow, that we’ve got to win that. All the other [expletive], there’s no reason to look any further than that,” Seidenberg said. “I’m confident we’re going to win all these three games and make it to the playoffs.”

The Bruins will play their final three games of their regular-season schedule at TD Garden, starting with Tuesday’s contest against the Hurricanes.

Read More: Claude Julien, Dennis Seidenberg,
An NHL coach texted Claude Julien ‘WTF’ after bad video review 03.24.16 at 10:22 pm ET
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Claude Julien said he was just as baffled as everybody else when a video review led officials to say there was no conclusive evidence of the puck crossing the goal line on what would have been a Patrice Bergeron goal Thursday night.

Furthermore, Julien said a coach from another team texted him about the play.

Said Julien: “I got another coach that texted me, and [it] was ‘WTF. How can that not be a goal?’ That’s coming from somebody who’s neutral.”

“I think you need to call the league because I can’t explain it either. I’m as baffled as you are right now, and I looked at it many times here before coming out here,” Julien said. “It looks like it’s in. It looks very conclusive.”

The goal would have tied the game at two goals apiece, but the Panthers ended up building on their lead with two more goals in an eventual 4-1 win.

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Bruins believe in Capitals hype, but know well that ‘anything can happen’ 03.05.16 at 11:48 am ET
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The Capitals are considered the Eastern Conference's lone Cup contender (Getty Images)

The Capitals are considered the Eastern Conference’s lone Cup contender (Getty Images)

The Eastern Conference picture has been clear pretty much all season: There’s the Capitals and there’s everyone else.

In ranking first in the NHL in goals per game and third in goals against per game, the Capitals are the clear favorite to represent the East in the Stanley Cup Final this season, but at the very least, they will run away with the Presidents’ Trophy. Their 98 points through 64 games puts them on pace for 126 points; since the return from the 2004-05 lockout, only twice has a team had a 120-point season (Detroit with 124 in 2005-06 and Washington with 121 in 2009-10). The Capitals have beaten the B’s in both of the teams’ meetings entering Saturday’s contest at TD Garden.

The Bruins are among the teams trying to establish themselves as a potential “other Eastern Conference powerhouse.” As the last Eastern Conference to win the Cup and a common favorite in seasons leading up to this one, the Bruins know well that being considered the favorite in the East doesn’t always pan out. Boston dominated the 2011-12 regular season before being knocked off by the No. 7 ranked Capitals in seven games.

“Let me put it this way: Every playoffs, there’s been surprises,” Claude Julien said Saturday morning. “I don’t put a ton of stock into who’s in and who’s out. We all know Washington’s one of the favorites in our conference; rightfully so. They have a great team and their record shows it, but in this game anything can happen.

“We go about our business and go day-by-day. To overthink that situation to me is not healthy. To just go out there and do your job and look forward to what you have to do is probably the best way to look at that situation.”

Dennis Seidenberg said that if the Bruins are no longer considered in the class they once were, it alleviates the pressure that their stronger clubs of seasons past had.

“We like being in the underdog role,” Seidenberg said. “It means we can perform without pressure, but that team is really good over there. They’re very, very deep, very balanced scoring, very deep on defense. They’re the favorite for a reason, but with that comes a lot of pressure, a lot of certainty. Once we get into the playoffs, anything can happen. That’s what happened to us when we lost against them in seven games. If there’s a team that plays well at the right time and has a goalie that plays very well, anything can happen. We’ll see.”

The Bruins will try to pull off their second consecutive upset against a Cup favorite Saturday when they host the Capitals. Much like the Blackhawks team that Boston defeated on Thursday, the Capitals will be playing the second night of a back-to-back and will have their backup goaltender in net.

Still, defeating the Blackhawks and Capitals in succession would not only be a feather in this post-deadline Bruins team’s cap, but it would secure much-needed points that many figured would be unattainable this week. The Bruins enter Saturday’s game in third place in the Atlantic Division, though current wild card Detroit sits three points behind them with one game in hand. Including Saturday, the B’s have 17 games remaining in their regular-season schedule.

“Before you know it, the season will be over,” Julien said. “There’s not that many games left, so we need to assert ourselves every game. It’s not so much what it means more than what we need to do here. We need to bring our A game and understand that we have to play a lot like we did the other night, be strong in all areas in order to beat good teams like Washington.”

Read More: Claude Julien, Dennis Seidenberg,
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