“Humble” Julien ties Art Ross on Bruins’ all-time wins list
Generally speaking, Claude Julien is unaware of any personal milestones that he’s approaching. There’s one milestone that was difficult to ignore — one he accomplished on Thursday night.
After guiding his team to a 4-2 win over the defending Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks, the ninth-year Bruins bench boss earned his 387th regular season victory tying Art Ross for most in team history.
This time, Julien was well aware of the accomplishment and was appreciative of reaching the milestone.
“The thing that comes to mind is humbling,” Julien said during his postgame press conference. “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 [laughs]. Those are all things that there’s a big difference between Art Ross and myself.”
Julien’s list of accomplishments during his nine-year tenure in Boston is quite extraordinary. From winning the Jack Adams Award in 2009; to four division titles (three in the old Northeast in 2008-09, 2010-11 and 2011-12, and the other in the Atlantic in 2013-14); to two Eastern Conference championships in 2011 and 2013; to the Presidents Trophy in 2014; and of course, the elusive Stanley Cup win in 2011, the former Habs and Devils bench boss was instrumental in turning Boston into a perennial Cup contender for a good chunk of his career.
That says something about a guy who’s seemingly been on the hot seat in the Boston scene more often than the famed Whitey Bulger — at least in recent history.
“The fact that I’ve avoided being fired for the last nine years helps get that many wins here,” Julien said. “So, [I] just feel fortunate and most of all obviously humbled by that achievement.”
Fortunate enough for Julien that he is now the longest tenured coach in today’s NHL. His players wouldn’t want to have it any other way.
“He’s one of those guys that always puts the team first, but it’s well-deserved,” said Patrice Bergeron, one of four Bruins who’s been a part of Julien’s famed system during his entire nine-year tenure. “He’s an amazing coach; I’ve been very fortunate to be under him for a lot of years and learning, and he’s been very successful – they’ve always been – so, well-deserved.”
“You know if you probably ask him he’s going to probably not even know about it,” added Chara, another Bruin who has donned the Spoked B during the entirety of Julien’s reign at the Boston helm. “Probably he’s just going to be saying that tonight was a big win. And obviously congratulations to him, but I think that he’s probably more happy about the win tonight than about tying the record.”
Although Julien’s coaching approach has been successful, it does not come without its critics. From Tyler Seguin to Phil Kessel and Dougie Hamilton, many detractors claim his philosophy does not benefit the younger talents in the lineup. That escalated this year with Colin Miller, Joe Morrow, and Zach Trotman being scratched — or in Colin’s case, sent down to Providence recently — in favor of the inconsistent Kevan Miller, who had a very solid game against the Blackhawks on Thursday.
For every miss on Seguin, Kessel and Hamilton, players like Bergeron, Brad Marchand, Torey Krug, Tuukka Rask and David Krejci (the other two players who have been in the Boston system during Claude’s nine years) have developed and grown under Julien’s guidance. Ryan Spooner, who spent a good chunk of his first three seasons between Boston and Providence, is starting to benefit from Julien’s season in his first full season in The Hub.
“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,” Spooner said after scoring a goal against the defending champs on Thursday.
“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 he’s given me more responsibility and trying to thrive in that role,” Krug added about his development under Julien. “He’s definitely given me a lot of advice along the way.”
In a year where the locker room is transitioning by the minute, Julien’s even-keeled philosophy has the Bruins in position to return to the Stanley Cup Playoffs. The road doesn’t get any easier. In fact, the Black and Gold have the toughest schedule remaining in the NHL. Their next opponent, the league-leading Washington Capitals, will be Julien’s first chance to pass Art Ross with win No. 388.
If there’s anyone more deserving to guide this year’s Bruins — amidst turmoil — it’s definitely Julien. When the inevitable becomes reality, his players will happily toast him for making history.