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By Court Lalonde (follow @courtlalonde)
The Boston Bruins – Montreal Canadiens rivalry has been the most storied in the NHL since the first game they played each other on Dec 8th, 1924. The 1955 Richard Riot was because of what originally happened between the Bruins and the Canadiens. Bruins defensemen Hal Laycoe slashed Maurice Richard across the shoulder and hit him in the face with his stick. When Richard then retaliated he tried to punch Hal and instead hit the linesman Cliff Thompson in the face knocking him out. The Boston police tried to arrest Richard that night, but the Bruins made nice with the police and allowed Richard to leave the building.
Earlier today the Montreal Canadiens announced that they had hired Claude Julien as their next coach. This has never happened in the history of both franchises that a coach was fired and then hired by the other club within the same year. Pat Burns did coach both clubs, but there were years in between this happening.
Claude Julien has the most wins as a coach for the Boston Bruins in the team’s history. He helped bring the Stanley Cup back to Boston in 2011 and won the team the Presidents Trophy in 2014. In the ten years he coached this franchise, he was one of the faces that anyone would associate with the Boston Bruins.
For the fans of this team, it might feel like a slap in the face because we hate the Canadiens more than any team in the NHL. The news probably came more of a shock than that of the firing of Julien the week before. As a fan of the Bruins, the firing is still a fresh wound, and then you feel like you get wounded all over again.
From the years of 1968 to 1974 the Canadiens won four cups, and the Bruins won two and lost one year in the finals to the Philadelphia Flyers. During those years the Bruins had Bobby Orr, Phil Esposito, and Johnny Bucyk that were stars in the NHL. The Canadiens had Jean Beliveau, Guy Lafleur, and a young Ken Dryden. These two teams were the most dominant teams in the NHL and had to face each other in the playoffs every year. Other teams knew they would have to beat one of them to have a chance at the cup.
In 1979, Guy Lafleur scored the famous power play goal that would tie the game up after the Bruins were called late in the third period with too many men on the ice. Rick Middleton had thought he might have had the game winner moments earlier and series winner. Montreal went on to win that game in overtime and go on to win the Stanley Cup that year.
Feb 9th, 2011 the Bruins beat the Montreal Canadiens 8-6, but they do it not just on the scoreboard. During that game, there were six fights, and a goalie fight between Carey Price and Tim Thomas. March 8th of the same year Zdeno Chara is suspended for a hit on Max Pacioretty that almost ended Pacioretty’s career. It was inevitable that the Bruins would face the Canadiens in the first round of the playoffs that year but would win it in seven games with an overtime winner from Nathan Horton. The Bruins went on to win the Stanley Cup and the modern day rivalry was back on in a big way.
I’m sure we all wanted nothing but the best for Claude after he was fired by Don Sweeney last week. I read that most fans wanted to call from Sweeney’s and Neely job after they did, not for doing it but how they did it. Maybe it makes it easier that Claude is now the coach of the Canadiens because we don’t have to be happy when he comes back to coach against us. I’m sure Claude will understand that the next time we play them, he will be our enemy.
Less than a week ago I wrote an article thanking him for everything he has done for this franchise but now he is the coach of the Montreal Canadiens. I will be forever grateful for what joy he helped bring me over the last ten years, but he is now the coach of a team that I do not like and will not like.
Sorry Claude, any time your behind that bench, you’re dead to me.
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