|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.
|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.
|Peter Chiarelli, Claude Julien unsure of job security with Bruins||04.13.15 at 1:24 pm ET|
Peter Chiarelli and Claude Julien held their annual breakup day press conference Monday at TD Garden. They’re well aware it could be their last public appearance as Bruins employees.
After missing the playoffs for the first time since 2006-07, both Julien and Chiarelli are at risk of losing their jobs. Chiarelli seemingly had authorization to notify Gregory Campbell and Daniel Paille that the Bruins would not be re-signing them. As such, he said he is able to handle this breakup day the way he has in previous years.
Charlie Jacobs said in January that missing the playoffs would be unacceptable and that the team’s leadership was under review.
“The job uncertainty, the questions surrounding us is part of the job and you have to deal with it and move forward, but it hasn’t impacted my interviews, my discussions, my dealings with Claude,” Chiarelli said. “Business as usual.”
Julien and Chiarelli don’t know whether they’re staying or going. They also don’t know when they’ll be notified.
“I couldn’t tell you,” Chiarelli said. “As I said, business as usual until we hear otherwise.”
This is the first time in Julien’s eight-year tenure in Boston that the Bruins have not made the playoffs. Asked if one year was enough to warrant being on the hot seat, Julien said it doesn’t matter.
“The bottom line is it’s a tough business and right now it’s not my decision to make,” Julien said. “It will all depend on how it’s being viewed from above me and [I’ll] deal with it from there. I’m like Peter. I’ve had exit interviews today with players and my job continues just like any other year. Again, I’m kind of repeating what Peter said: Unless I’m told otherwise, I’ve got to continue to do that.
“I’ve been here for eight years and enjoy being here and certainly look forward to staying here. Again, having said that, I also understand the nature of this business.”
|Pierre McGuire on MFB: Bruins would have made playoffs with Jarome Iginla, Johnny Boychuk||at 1:05 pm ET|
NBC Sports NHL analyst Pierre McGuire joined Middays with MFB to discuss the Bruins failure to make the playoffs and the decisions that face the team in the offseason. To hear the interview, go to the MFB audio on demand page.
The Bruins sat in playoff position heading into the last three games of the season but failed to win any of them and were passed by the Senators. This marks the first year the B’s have missed the postseason since 2008 season.
“I took the Bruins to make the playoffs, I thought the Bruins would have a great run,” McGuire said. “I’m totally wrong on that, they did not. But I think one of the ways you can track it, the two players that they lost.”
Before the season, Bruins management allowed free agent forward Jarome Iginla to leave and traded defenseman Johnny Boychuk to the Islanders for draft picks.
“I think the biggest thing is, I’m looking at it this season and I’m seeing 29 goals from Jarome Iginla that are in Colorado, and I’m seeing over 22 minutes a game from Johnny Boychuk and nine goals with the New York Islanders and over 35 points with the New York Islanders,” McGuire said. “Just those two players alone, you lose those two players for nothing basically, and that basically tilts your season, especially when you compound it with all the injuries the Bruins had.”
Added McGuire: “Let’s just say for the sake of argument that [Iginla] only scores 15. I guarantee you those 15 goals get you in the playoffs. … Boychuk, let’s just say that he only plays 16 minutes a game rather than 22. He’s still going to give you 35 points.”