Claude Julien on returning to Bruins: “It means a lot because I want to be here.”
Entering an off-season of uncertainty, the fate of Bruins coach Claude Julien was up in the air. That fate would be in the hands of Don Sweeney after he was named the team’s eighth General Manager in May.
Sweeney made his decision a few weeks later and notified Julien that he would be returning for his ninth season.
Following an off-season that featured a plethora of head coaching changes in Buffalo, Detroit, Toronto, San Jose, Philadelphia and New Jersey, Julien survived the hot seat. That is something he’s been accustomed to quite often in Boston as he survived on a couple of other occasions, most notably in 2011 where a Game 7 loss to the Canadiens in the first round would’ve unquestionably sealed his fate. Though there have been a few speed bumps along the way, which also included the historic Game 7 comeback against the Leafs, Julien, who had been fired on two previous occasions with the Habs (after the 2005-06 season) and Devils (with three games left in the 2006-07 regular season), has not looked back since.
“It means a lot because I want to be here,” Julien said about returning for another year. “This is a great city and a great organization. There’s a lot to be excited about being here. I still feel committed to bringing the best out of this hockey club. We had a bump along the way, but it doesn’t mean that everything is going to explode.”
Julien is safe for now, but he’s still on the hot seat. Even with the team in transition, a slow start to the 2015-16 campaign could spell trouble for the longest-tenured coach in the NHL today.
Still, there’s no denying that Julien has the support in the locker room, particularly with the veterans. That does mean a lot to Julien, but he’s also concerned about doing what he’s paid to do: win games.
“You don’t want to be just a popular coach, you want to be a good coach,” Julien said after the first on-ice sessions at Bruins Training Camp on Friday.
“We have a lot of new guys entering the lineup so that’s going to be exciting. The challenge is still there and the enthusiasm as far as I’m concerned is still there.”
Aside from Mike Babcock, who left the Red Wings for the Maple Leafs this off-season, and Joel Quenneville in Chicago, you’d be hard-pressed to find a better coach in today’s NHL than Claude Julien.