The Bruins are off to a good start to their offseason, with Don Sweeney announcing today that Claude Julien will “absolutely” remain behind the bench next season.
Julien has been under fire after the team missed the playoffs for the second straight year, but putting this season on him is unfair. After a third of the roster was turned over and the defense looked somewhat similar to a high school JV team, the Bruins were not given much thought in the playoff race. Instead of accepting the team’s fate, Julien turned it into one of the highest-scoring teams in the league (finished fifth with 240 goals), and barring late-season struggles, it would have easily clinched a playoff spot.
Often, when a team collapses in such dramatic fashion, the coach is at fault. In this instance, the players insist that that is not the case. During the B’s breakup day at the end of the regular season, the team’s leaders completely put the blame on themselves, the players, and praised Julien.
Via the Boston Herald:
“We all should feel responsible and accountable for where we’re at,” said Zdeno Chara. “That’s obviously players and coaches, and that’s just the way it is, and obviously it’s never just one person’s fault. I think that Claude is a great coach. He puts a system into place, and he does whatever he can to make us ready, and it really comes down to us, and if one individual, or it’s too many, is not willing to do what it takes for a team to win, then that’s one too many.”
“I hope he’s back, for sure, said Patrice Bergeron. “That’s definitely out of my hands and tough for me to answer that question, but at the same time I hope he’s back. “I’ve said that a lot of times before, and this time it’s on us as players.”
When the team’s captain and future captain are this adamant about keeping their coach, he should stay.
Despite not being fired, Julien could have stepped down and moved on to greener pastures, but Boston is where his loyalty lies.
“To be honest with you, would it be easier to go somewhere else and start fresh … that’s not what I wanted,” he said. “This organization has been good to me, it’s been loyal to me. I love this city. I love our fans. You want to be somewhere where people are passionate about this game. I don’t want to be that guy that fails because you hit a bump in the road. You want to be the guy who perseveres. It’s fine to be the winningest coach in Bruins history, but I want to be remembered as the guy who went back, dug his heels in and turned this franchise around.”
*Wipes away tear*
Claude was the biggest question mark heading into this summer, but the coaching staff will not go untouched, as it was announced that assistant coach Doug Houda will not return. This is likely the first of many moves to be made within the organization this offseason, but only time will tell. Buckle up.
[Photo via csnne]