He was a puppet on a string for the last few seasons trying to make the most out of asset and personnel mismanagement by the front office. As a result, Claude Julien wound up being the scapegoat.
All while the Patriots were parading through Boston celebrating their fifth Super Bowl win in front of nearly a million loyal supporters braving the snow and cold.
Dumping this news item on Tuesday in hopes of getting little media attention makes the timing even worse. Of all the questionable personnel decisions ranging from trading draft picks, core players and replacing them with guys that were either past their prime or not ready for primetime, the handling of Julien is the one that really broke the camels back for many Bruins fans on social media.
Okay, so maybe the failed comeback attempt against the Maple Leafs was likely the last straw for Bruins management. There’s no denying that they have to go about with their daily business. But dumping this news item on the same day of the Patriots parade in an attempt to sweep this under the rug when few people are noticing is turning into a public relations nightmare for Don Sweeney and Cam Neely.
“Just like the weather in New England, I did not pick this day to take away from the great accomplishment by the New England Patriots,” Sweeney told the press members following the Bruins’ practice at Warrior Ice Arena on Tuesday.
Of course, firing a coach who has had quite the success since coming to Boston is always difficult, regardless of how far a team has fallen.
In an attempt to try to put some positive spin on this, Sweeney couldn’t help but praise Julien for his 10-year tenure that included 419 career wins – the most of any coach in franchise history – a Jack Adams Award, a President’s Trophy and a Stanley Cup.
“I apologize that [the decision] fell on a day where, obviously, New England is incredibly excited [about the Patriots],” Sweeney told the press following the first practice of the Bruce Cassidy era. “But I didn’t make the schedule in terms of where these days would exist from a practice standpoint. I’m not trying to take away in any shape or form, or deflect, or try and mute the decision that I’ve made this morning in moving forward. As I said, the schedule represents an opportunity to have a couple days of practice. I thought that was vitally important, to be perfectly honest.”
The timing is rather precarious because of the magnitude of the decision – no doubt. But this could have been avoided as it has been on more than one occasion with Julien, especially given all the rumors of his job security over the last 10 years.
Even with all of the praise Julien received in his departure from Sweeney, Neely and the Jacobs’ the positive spin takes a backseat to both the decision and the way it was handled by the front office, even if was suggested by the B’s media relations department.
“The PR department had explained that, once you make a decision in that regard, you need to stand up in front of people and acknowledge the reasons behind it and move on from there,” Sweeney said about the timing.
Credit Sweeney for facing the music with the media in his first press conference since the start of Training Camp.
Still, they could have waited until the bye week or even later Tuesday afternoon – or they could have done it sooner when speculation was at an all-time high. But it’s all said and done now. There’s no looking back on how they could have handled the timing differently. Instead, it’s about trying to salvage the remainder of the season under Cassidy and looking ahead to identifying the core members of the Bruins for years to come.
It won’t take long for Julien to get another job. He is a well-respected coach who deserved all the accolades he received over his 10 years in Boston.
As far as Neely and Sweeney, they may face a similar fate as Julien faced on Tuesday. Unlike Julien, it’s hard to see them getting a chance to help another team – at least in their current capacities – in the National Hockey League.