The Bruins’ 4-1 win over Florida on Thursday night did more than push them within a point of Montreal for top spot in the Eastern Conference.
The victory was No. 246 for Claude Julien behind the B’s bench, moving him past Hockey Hall of Famer Milt Schmidt for second on the franchise coaching wins list.
Not that leapfrogging coaching legends is anything new. Last season, Julien passed Gerry Cheevers (204 wins) and, earlier this season, moved passed Don Cherry (231 wins) for third spot on the list.
That said, the B’s coach acknowledged the honor associated with being in such company — though he wasn’t sure he truly belonged.
“I’ve got a tremendous amount of respect for Milt, and even for Grapes,” he told CSNNE.com. “Those guys have done a lot for the game. It’s something that’s nice, to know that you’re with them in regard to the number of wins, but certainly not willing to say I’m in the same category as them yet.”
Julien still has a ways to go before hitting the franchise’s most distinguished mark: 361 wins, compiled by the legendary Art Ross over four terms as Bruins head coach.
That might seem like a tough total to reach, but Julien has a lot going for him.
As the fourth longest-tenured coach in the NHL, he’s a staple of the franchise and his list of accolades (2009 Jack Adams, 2011 Stanley Cup) has probably earned him a longer leash than others.
He also has the respect of his players, a big key to coaching survival.
“He’s the type of coach that’s always been fair during good days and bad days,” Bruins alternate captain Patrice Bergeron told CSNNE. “He’s always been fair and he always lets you know [where you stand].
“For a guy that had shorter stints in Montreal and New Jersey it shows what can happen when you have faith in him.”