As most of those who could travel to Boston were awaking Tuesday morning with plans to attend the “rolling rally” celebrating the New England Patriots 5th Super Bowl win, the Boston Bruins were announcing that they had let head coach Claude Julien go. Further the team announced that General Manager Don Sweeney would be available to the press at 11:30am, which was while the Super Bowl parade was making its way along the streets of Boston.
While it certainly did nothing to draw away from the Patriots and the celebration of the city, there were many of the media who did question Sweeney on the time of not only the announcement as well as the timing of his press conference. However, perhaps the celebration in Boston did overshadow the recognition of the end of service of the winningest coach in Bruins history.
Julien was hired during the offseason in the summer of 2006, after the team had failed to qualify for the playoffs the previous two seasons. During his tenure, the team was in the playoffs the next eight years, winning the Stanley Cup in 2011, after a 39-year drought. He took much of that same roster again to the Stanley Cup finals two years later. However, the Bruins have failed to qualify the past two seasons, and their current struggling record tends to suggest that they may again miss the playoffs this season.
“Claude Julien is the all-time winningest coach in Boston Bruins history, and my family and I join Bruins fans in thanking him for the many great memories that have come while he has been behind the Bruins bench,” said Bruins CEO Charlie Jacobs Tuesday morning. “As a management team, we set a high standard for ourselves, and I believe that our organization is moving in the right direction towards meeting and exceeding those standards.”
“I want to thank Claude. I want to acknowledge the level of success that he has achieved as the coach of the Boston Bruins and acknowledge he is a great coach, a tremendous person, and he’s meant a lot to our organization,” Sweeney said during the press conference. “We’re going to wish him nothing but the greatest level of success that he can achieve. He’ll be a great coach with another organization in a short time, I’m quite positive of that.”
Indeed, Julien will quickly find a new position as bench boss, but what of the Bruins and the remainder of the season? Assistant Coach Bruce Cassidy has been relegated as interim head coach, and Sweeney indicated that he is also on the candidate list.
“I would consider Bruce a candidate and I want to evaluate on the fly. It’s not about wins and losses. The expectation for him to get us in or not be a candidate doesn’t exist,” Sweeney shared. “I want to go through the daily process of evaluating the impact that he can have, and I have a working relationship and had a working relationship with Bruce for several years and feel comfortable in the communications level that we’ve had in the past and what’s going to happen going forward.”
Communication is one of the buzzwords that made more than one appearance during the morning’s media availability with Sweeney. In fact, it could be the true underlining issue that signaled the end of Julien’s career with the Bruins, rather than their current league standings.
“It never rested with a win or a loss. I wasn’t making a decision on how we lost tonight or we won, can we win tomorrow night. It was really a communication level that I could not get past—the fact that I wasn’t committed in my own mind to sort of go beyond where we are right now with Claude,” Sweeney elaborated. “Where we are as an organization, I don’t know if those two things lined up, but the level of success he’s had, the way we were playing, that the roster wasn’t built and necessarily complete or a finished product.”
Perhaps that sums up the real reason for the change—a miscommunication between management and the head coach. It is clear that Sweeney has spent more time with Cassidy and perhaps they both approach the building of the team from the same angle. At this point all that can happen is to see if the change shakes up the team or if changes in practice, alluded to by Sweeney, turn the struggling team around.
In the meantime, the Bruins fans were given the greatest of memories—the raising of the Stanley Cup in 2011. And for that Julien will always be held with appreciation.
The full press conference is below: