By Mark Allred Follow me on Twitter @BlackAndGold277
On Tuesday in a cowardly fashion, Boston Bruins management relieved Head Coach Claude Julien of his tenure as the franchise’s winningest coach in team history as the organization attempts to motivate the current roster that’s frankly underperformed to ownership’s expectations. As many hockey fans know, the B’s haven’t participated in the NHL’s Stanley Cup Playoffs for two straight seasons and with the underachieving efforts from this lineup, this season look to possibly be on the outside looking for a third year with 27 regular season games remaining in the 2016-17 campaign.
#BREAKING: Bruins fire head coach Claude Julien #NHLBruins https://t.co/7KSku197Jn pic.twitter.com/rM0qPQj2OZ
— WBZ Boston News (@cbsboston) February 7, 2017
There’s no doubt Julien is a well-respected head coach around the NHL from hearing praise from fellow bench bosses such as Toronto Maple Leafs Mike Babcock and Washington Capitals Barry Trotz, but after ten season’s in Boston, it seemed the message to the players was becoming stale and uninspiring. After Claude’s dismissal earlier this week he left the organization with a 419-246-94 record and was only 13 games away from tying Art Ross for most games coached in team history. The legendary Ross coached the Bruins from 1925 to 1945 (17 Seasons) earning a franchise record od 772 games.
Julien’s achievements in Beantown will never be forgotten as he orchestrated a lineup which brought a Stanley Cup back to Boston after a 39-year absence, a Presidents Trophy as the best team in the standings, and a Jack Adams award for best coach in the league. He’s under contract for the remainder of this season and all of next, so it’s going to be interesting to see if Bruins owner Jeremy Jacobs will entertain offers as other teams foaming at the mouth to interview him. If allowed to talk to teams in need of his services, he won’t be on the market for long.
Julien is a defensive minded head coach that fit the Bruins system as an old school leader but times are changing in the NHL as other teams have transitioned into a more offensive style play, and as the league gets bigger, faster, and stronger the time was now for a change. With a wave of developmental talent coming through the minor leagues, a new voice might be needed, and a coach with more offensive responsibilities may be accepted from younger members that seemingly haven’t gotten a fair shot in the past under the veteran coach.
I would expect Las Vegas and Florida to seek permission from BOS to talk to fired head coach Claude Julien about their coaching vacancies.
— Bob McKenzie (@TSNBobMcKenzie) February 9, 2017
Next: Intern Bruce Cassidy
The @NHLBruins are looking for a new start under their new coach. https://t.co/oi9faT6LaS
— NHL (@NHL) February 9, 2017
The 51-year-old Cassidy has been with the Bruins organization since he was hired to be the assistant coach of the Bruins top minor-pro Providence Bruins AHL team in the 2008-09 season. After Rob Murray was let go by the organization, Cassidy was promoted to be the bench boss in the 2011-12 season and as the voice of the B’s affiliate for the next five seasons helping the Baby B’s to a decent 207-128-45 record.
After the Bruins missed the playoffs last season for the second consecutive time, Bruins management made changes under Julien with the removal of Doug Houda and promoted Cassidy and former Bruins Jay Pandolfo in an effort to get to the younger players being filtered into the lineup, but also be an option in case the team fails once again to meet expectations. It’s been believed that with the Cassidy addition the fate of Julien was expected as rumors filter in that President Cam Neely was pushing for his dismissal for the last five seasons.
Tonight will be Bruce Cassidy’s first game as head coach. How it will go: https://t.co/Fd9GKmlUag
— Fluto Shinzawa (@GlobeFluto) February 9, 2017
This isn’t Cassidy’s first attempt at the head coaching experience as he was behind the bench for a season and a half (2002-03 to 2003-04) earning a record of 47-45-9-6 in his time with the Washington Capitals organization. Now is his time to audition for a permanent job with 27 regular season games remaining but is that enough of a sample size for Bruins management to properly evaluate his efforts with hopes of changing the identity that many seem to believe has been missing for the past few seasons?
With the firing of Julien, General Manager Don Sweeney may, in fact, be using Cassidy as a temporary fix as the B’s organization assesses the situation and starts the interviewing process in the mean time. As Black N’ Gold Hockey Blog staff writer Kyle Benson mentioned in an article earlier this week, there are some coaches available with NHL experience but is that the direction this franchise wants to go in. Could a plan be under the sleeves of Sweeney in an attempt to hire “his guy” with the ability to communicate to younger players? As mentioned above, the more youthful movement might be in place and with Cassidy in the mix the last six years with the organization he might not be in the plans.
If Not Cassidy, Who?
Above Photo Credit: The Province .com
As much as I hate the idea of bringing back former Bruins players either in a coaching or management role, I’d like this team to take a look at former Bruins forward and current AHL coach of the Utica Comets Travis Green. In four season’s as a minor league professional coach, Gree has a coaching record of 138-97-26-12 and while those numbers might not scream success to many Bruins fans ready for change, it’s his ability to communicate with developing players that are most interesting to me and might be to B’s manager Sweeney as well with his previous role as a long-time director of player development.
As a constant reader of hockey news and listener of many podcasts from around the hockey community, Greens name has been highly mentioned as a coach that should be under the radar for not only a potential future job in Boston but around the NHL as other teams look to make changes as well. Travis played 970 NHL games and posted 193-262-455 number in his 15-year career. He spent two seasons’ss with the Bruins from the 2003-04 to 2005-06 playing in 146 games contributing 21-17–38 numbers in his short time in Beantown.
Photo Credit Above: WHL Portland Winterhawks
Green coached the WHL’s Portland Winterhawks to a Memorial Cup final in 2013 as he took over for suspended and former Pittsburgh Penguins head coach Mike Johnston. That year Green took over the bench with 47 regular season games remaining and helped his team to a 37-8-0-2 record. In the 2014-15 season, he helped the Utica Comets AHL franchise to a Calder Cup Final appearance with a regular season record of 47-20-7-2 and a Western Conference title. Unfortunately, his efforts came to an end that year as the Manchester Monarchs won a franchise first Calder Cup and later pack up operations to be closer to their California apparent NHLclub the Los Angeles Kings.
Now I’m not saying this is the right fix for the future of this Bruins organization, but his efforts as a coach are opening many eyes in the hockey world and should be considered for at least an interview as the Bruins next head coach. No matter who ends up behind the bench, I hope Bruins management make the right decision as they move along from one that brought so much success in his tenure in Boston.
It is time for Neely to go. Time to stop blaming the bottom of the pile and hold the ones at the top responsible for their bad performances.