With their win over the Chicago Blackhawks on March 3, the Boston Bruins head coach, Claude Julien, reached an impressive milestone—his 387th win behind the bench of the Bruins. This victory tied him with Art Ross for most regular season wins in the team’s history. While a definite accomplishment, he would go on to pass Ross for the most regular-season coaching wins when the team took a victory over the Florida Panthers in Sunrise, Florida on March 7. So perhaps it is fitting that the organization will honor Julien before Thursday night’s home game against the Panthers with a pregame ceremony.
The Blind River, Ontario native was brought to Boston in June 2007 as the 28th head coach of the Bruins’ franchise. Throughout his tenure, there hasn’t been a year where the fans haven’t been demanding he be fired—even the 2010-11 season where the team went all the way, winning the Stanley Cup after a 39-years drought.
Usually when Julien is alerted to a career milestone, he admits to having been unaware of it. He stresses the team and what they are doing and that his focus is on where the team is and what they need to do. However, when told of his achievement his response had more to do with whom he had tied and surpassed than himself.
“The thing that comes to mind is humbling. It really is humbling because this guy here—I said that before, he’s an icon, he’s a legend. I don’t have a trophy named after me,” he said with some humor. “Those are all things that there’s a big difference between Art Ross and myself and the fact that I’ve avoided being fired for the last nine years helps get that many wins here. So, just feel fortunate and most of all obviously humbled by that achievement.”
During this more difficult year, there have been games where many fans believed that the players were tuning out Julien. As a researcher, I go to the source, so what was it that the players saw in Julien? What makes him an effective coach?
“I think he just has a great feel of knowing how to handle every individual, I guess, and finding ways to get everyone going,” Patrice Bergeron shared. “He’s one of those guys that is always—let’s say with one guy you have to go hard at him and other guys you kind of have to take the long road—and he always has a great read for that and he’s always been fair with everyone and that’s why you want to play for a coach like him.”
“I think for me, I’ve had some coaches that get really mad and stuff like that. If you’re not playing well they can be very negative, I guess you can say, and sometimes when we’re not playing well he tries to stay as positive as he can and that’s good for us,” Ryan Spooner added. “He kind of calls it like he sees it in terms of, I guess, the game that I play. I’ve had some ups and some downs here and if I’m not playing well he’ll tell me and if I am playing well then he tells me. So, I think that’s definitely a good thing, for sure.”
“He’s been huge. You know it’s the same thing. It’s about taking the right approach. With me it’s about growing as an individual and whether it’s defensively [Julien’s] given me more responsibility and trying to thrive in that role. He’s definitely given me advice along the way,” agreed Torey Krug.
To those who feel the players tune him out, that couldn’t be further from the truth.
“Well he’s just so consistent in his approach and you know what he does for us. He gives us a game plan that if we follow it we are able to win a lot of games. Doesn’t matter who is in the lineup, who is out, if guys are injured—you can see that if we stick to our system you know we are able to win a lot of games,” said Krug.
Perhaps Bergeron summed it up best.
“I think everyone wants to go on the ice and leave everything out there for Claude and it’s all in his honor. It’s one of those things where he does the right things and he says the right things at all times and makes us better players and persons.”
High praise from one of the most respected players in the league.
I think everyone wants to go on the ice and leave everything out there for Claude and it’s all in his honor. — Bergeron