All this week, Bruins Daily will countdown the most important questions surrounding the Boston Bruins entering training camp. In Part 5, we’ll discuss how short head coach Claude Julien’s leash really is.
After failing to make the playoffs for the first time since the 2006-07 season, the Bruins had changes to make. From the firing of general manager Peter Chiarelli to the trades of Milan Lucic and Dougie Hamilton, big changes were indeed made.
After the firing of Chiarelli, many in Boston wondered about the future of head coach Claude Julien and whether or not the new general manager would bring Julien back for his ninth season as Bruins’ head coach.
When the club announced that former Bruin Don Sweeney would be taking over as the team’s GM, he was asked right off the bat about the status of Julien. Sweeney and the Bruins decided that Julien would return as the Bruins’ bench boss.
But the question has to be asked: how short is Julien’s leash?
Last season marked the first time the club failed to make the playoffs since Julien took over as head coach. Too often the Bruins battled with inconsistency and often they seemed disinterested and unmotivated.
As the Bruins move on from last season and look to get things back on track, a lot of eyes will be on Julien and how the team performs right out of the gate. One of the reasons why Claude still has a job in Boston very well could be because there really was no better option out there in the form of a Julien replacement.
During the summer, rumors swirled that NBC analyst Mike Milbury or Providence Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy could be next in line should the B’s let Julien go. Both names remain possible replacements for Julien if he indeed is fired after a slow start.
The Bruins need a good month of hockey to start the season and for more reasons than one. After last year’s disappointing season, many are doubting the B’s talents and no longer see the Black and Gold as legitimate Stanley Cup contenders. A hot start to the season can prove the doubters wrong and raise some confidence inside the dressing room.
More important than confidence or proving doubters wrong is indeed Julien’s future. Stumbling out of the gate could result in Sweeney relieving Julien of his duties.
But is Julien’s leash really that short? The Bruins can’t afford to stumble out of the gate and rely on turning things around. A change would have to be made. Unfortunately for Julien, that change would have to be him.
Julien has done wonderful things behind the bench, there is no doubting that. Winning the Stanley Cup in 2011 and bringing the team back there in 2013, his resume in Boston is impressive. After Mike Babcock left Detroit for Toronto, Julien became the longest tenured coach in the National Hockey League. No coach in Bruins history has coached more (620) or won more (351) than Claude.
Julien will be responsible for guiding the Bruins to a quick start in the 2015-16 season, his job depends on it.