|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.
|Poll: Were Bruins right to retain Claude Julien?||06.05.15 at 12:37 pm ET|
New Bruins general manager Don Sweeney announced Friday that Claude Julien will return for his ninth season behind the bench, despite the team’s disappointing 2014-15 season that ended with no postseason. Do you agree with Sweeney’s move?
Do you agree with the Bruins' decision to retain Claude Julien?
- Yes (77%, 364 Votes)
- No (23%, 108 Votes)
Total Voters: 472
Julien’s status had been in question since the Bruins failed to make the playoffs and Peter Chiarelli was fired as GM. Although Julien is starting a three-year contract extension he signed in November of last year, there was some concern that the team was no longer responding to him and it might be time for a change from Julien’s defense-oriented approach.
When he was introduced as GM last month, Sweeney said he planned to meet with Julien to discuss the disappointing season and what changes might need to be made. Sweeney said Friday that he did not speak to any other coaching candidates before deciding to stick with Julien and his staff.
“I needed to have conversations with each and every [coach] to know we were in agreement,” Sweeney told reporters Friday. “I’m not going to apologize for taking a little time to go through the process.”
Julien, 55, has a 351-192-79 record in eight seasons in Boston. He guided the Bruins to a championship in 2011 and another Stanley Cup Final appearance two years later.
|Claude Julien’s fate with Bruins still undecided||05.20.15 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.
|Don Sweeney has been Bruins’ acting GM this offseason||05.09.15 at 1:52 pm ET|
The Bruins don’t have a general manager yet, but the signs continue to point toward Don Sweeney eventually getting the gig.
In fact, indications are that Sweeney is doing the heavy lifting in the Bruins’ front office as they begin the offseason. Sweeney has been the team’s acting GM recently, a source familiar with the situation told WEEI.com Saturday.
That’s not an official title, nor is it a certainty that it will become one, but it does indicate who is making the calls for the B’s as they look to improve their team from this season’s disappointing finish.
The Bruins have been without an official GM since firing Peter Chiarelli on April 15. Sweeney has picked up Chiarelli’s responsibilities for now, though everything funnels through team president Cam Neely.
This comes following a Boston Herald report that Sweeney had a lengthy meeting with Claude Julien on Friday. The Herald’s Stephen Harris deduced from that development that Sweeney could plan on keeping Julien around as head coach if and when Sweeney gets the GM job.
It is unknown where the Bruins are in the interview process as they seek Chiarelli’s replacement. ESPN’s Joe McDonald reported on May 3 that the team was entering its second round of interviews and that Sweeney remained in the mix. Jeff Gorton, a potential candidate, has not yet been allowed to interview with the Bruins, as Rangers GM Glen Sather won’t let teams talk to his assistant GM until New York is eliminated from the playoffs. The Capitals hold a 3-2 series lead over the Rangers in the second round, but Sather hinted to the New York Post earlier in the week that he still might not let teams talk to Gorton this offseason at all.
Sweeney has been in the Bruins’ hockey operations department since 2006 and was named one of Chiarelli’s assistant general managers prior to their Stanley Cup-winning 2010-11 season. Prior to his time in Boston’s front office, Sweeney enjoyed a lengthy NHL career in which he played 1,052 regular-season games and 103 playoff games for the Bruins before playing his final season with the Stars.
The fact that he’s acting as the team’s GM for now shouldn’t come as a major surprise. Fluto Shinzawa of the Boston Globe wrote the day that Chiarelli was fired that Sweeney would get the job. Furthermore, Sweeney is one of two Bruins assistant GMs and is longer-tenured in that role than Scott Bradley, who was named one of Chiarelli’s assistants last offseason.
|Patrice Bergeron gives Claude Julien endorsement||04.23.15 at 1:58 pm ET|
Patrice Bergeron was made available to the media Thursday to discuss his Selke candidacy, but he was well aware that the Bruins have bigger things to worry about than awards this summer.
Bergeron gave Claude Julien a vote of confidence, saying that he enjoys playing for the longtime Bruins coach. Julien is currently in limbo, as the B’s recently fired general manager Peter Chiarelli and said that the next GM will decide whether Julien stays or goes. Julien has been Boston’s coach for the last eight years.
“By all means, I like Claude; I like playing for Claude,” Bergeron said. “We’ll see what happens with that.”
Bergeron said he sent Chiarelli a text last week expressing his gratitude for all Chiarelli had done for him. Chiarelli is reportedly in talks with the Oilers about joining their front office.
It is unknown who will replace Chiarelli, though the Bruins have some internal candidates in Don Sweeney and John Furguson. Bergeron said he’s confidently Neely will make the right decision.
“I’m not concerned. I’m a player. It’s definitely out of my control, but I have full confidence and support in what upper-management, the decision they’ll make,” Bergeron said. “[Nine] years ago now, they hired Peter and no one knew what was going to happen and we won a Stanley Cup. I’m definitely going to leave it in their hands again and I’m sure they’re going to make the right decision one more time.”
Editor’s note: We had planned on running this story between the end of the regular season and the playoffs, but the end of the Bruins’ season has changed many, many things. We figured his 55th birthday would be a good day to tell the story and lighten the mood.
— Jen (@NHLhistorygirl) November 2, 2014
Sitting in a New Brunswick jail cell, a veteran professional hockey player tried to calm down his partners in crime.
Goaltender Ron Tugnutt, who was in his first professional season with the Fredericton Express, thought it was a joke. So too did the other handful of players. Tugnutt responded with an answer that could today cost someone their press pass.
“Yeah, OK, Claude,” Tugnutt shot back, mocking Julien.
Earlier in the night, Julien his teammates were hiding in bushes with baseball bats when they were stopped by the police, roughed up and thrown in jail. Tugnutt wanted to doubt the validity of the group’s arrest.
Any hope that it was a joke went away at around 2 a.m. That’s when head coach Ron Lapointe walked in.
“All of a sudden my face went, ‘Oh Jesus,’” Tugnutt recalled.
“He goes, ‘This is an embarrassment. We’re going to pack your equipment up. We’re sending you guys home.’ Right then and there I said, ‘OK, it’s 2 in the morning and my head coach is there.’ I said, ‘Oh. My. God.’
“I said, ‘This is really happening.’ Then it became a reality.”
After leaving the police station, Julien, Tugnutt, their small group of teammates and Lapointe went straight to the rink, where the players started to gather their belongings.
“We’re packing up our equipment and all of a sudden we hear a bunch of laughs,” Tugnutt said, “and it’s all the veterans in the shower coming out laughing that they got us.”
That’s right. There was once a time here on planet Earth when a group of adults wanted to pull off an exceptionally elaborate practical joke — one that involved the police — and deemed Claude Julien the man for the job.
To his credit, Julien pulled it off. He invited the players on what he called a “snipe hunt,” which Wikipedia defines as a practical joke that involves “experienced people making fun of credulous newcomers by giving them an impossible or imaginary task.” Tugnutt and company took the bait.
“We were out in a bush with bats and nets,” Tugnutt said. “Apparently we were going out there to catch some of these ‘snipe birds.’ I was a kid from Toronto and I was like, ‘Yeah, whatever. I’ve never heard of these things.”’
A kid from the city was the perfect player to fall for such a prank, but the work that Julien and his teammates put in was enough to fool anyone.
“The police would be waiting for us. They knew exactly where those rookies would be, which area,” Julien recalled late in the season with a smile. “It was all pre-planned. They’d get arrested and be brought to jail. I would kind of be in that group so it wouldn’t look too suspicious.
“As they would be in the cell, [the police] would come and get me to tell me I had a phone call to make to get a lawyer for all of us. I would go out there and we’d kind of have a good giggle at their expense.”
The ‘snipe hunt’ doesn’t happen anymore. Why? Because while teams like a good laugh and bonding experience, they don’t like injuries.
“It was a good gig that we had for years in Fredericton,” Julien said. “I think it ended up in a situation long after we were gone where I think Marc Lamothe got really upset, punched a wall and ended up breaking his wrist. That was the end of that gig.”
Clearly, Julien’s teammates didn’t know him well, as they should have known something was up when he suggested they use bats instead of baseball gloves. If Julien’s detractors have taught us anything, it’s that Julien hates home runs and wants to win every game, 0-0.*
*Reminder: Julien’s Bruins finished top-five in the NHL in scoring in three of the four years prior to this season.