Monday, June 18, 2007

From top to bottom, Julien may be the man

Reports are filtering out on Monday night that Claude Julien will be named as the next head coach of the Boston Bruins.

It's not a surprising development considering his close relationship with Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli, both are from the Ottawa area and have crossed paths over the years through the junior ranks there and into the pros while Chiarelli worked as an agent and then front office manager with the Sens.

When the Bruins removed Dave Lewis form his position last week, (one of many to face that fate in recent years) many thought that it would be a matter of hours before Chiarelli made an announcement, but more than a few days have gone by since then, leading many to believe that Chiarelli a former Assistant GM with Ottawa was waiting for the power struggle in Canada’s capital to play out.

Had John Muckler survived as GM, it’s not a far off thought to think that Bryan Murray might have been named the new bench boss of the B’s, as things turned out Murray took over as GM in Ottawa, taking his name out of the coach’s sweepstakes. From there Chiarelli’s list reportedly was made up of two names, Claude Julien and Mike Milbury. The former Bruins coach and most recently with the Islanders was part of the well documented free fall with the Isles. So it seems doubtful that he would have been recycled into the Boston position, despite his past iconic status with the team.

Julien who last coached the New Jersey Devils into first place in the East earlier this year, was removed just before the playoffs by Lou Lamoriello. It was a move that shocked the NHL community and left Julien on the sidelines through the playoffs. Most observers felt that it wouldn’t be long before Julien was back in the NHL, in fact his name quickly went to the top of the Ottawa list with Murray’s ascension to the GM ‘s office. Considering his past hockey history in the Ottawa market, his ability to communicate in French and English, as well as his family ties to the area, it seemed like a very possible move.
If the reports out of Boston are correct, then the B’s weren’t inclined to let the Sens beat them to perhaps the most in demand of the coaches in the market at the moment. There was talk that Pat Quinn might be a good fit with the Bruins, but he had previously turned them down for the job and with the work in progress that the Burins have become, Quinn probably wouldn’t have been the right pick for what will be a long term climb back to respectability.

The Bruins have been in disarray for a number of years now, horrendous trades and a succession of losing has taken its toll on the once might franchise. A trip into Boston once instilled fear in the opposition, now most likely it means two points and a pretty good meal of lobster and steak for the visiting squad.

It’s a challenge that will fall to Julien to reverse. Having spent numerous years in the foundries of the QMJHL and having had success in the NHL, it should be a possibility that Julien will relish. The expectations won’t be particularly high in the season to come, so if he can put together a team that provides a solid effort every night and rewards the fans with wins he may find that Boston will take to him in short order.

After coaching for in New Jersey, which seems to be a rather complicated place to coach, even the current confusion in Boston may be acceptable. One thing is probably certain, should he somehow have the Bruins playing in first place two weeks before the playoffs, he most likely won’t be packing his house up for a move during the first round.

No comments: