Bruins fire head coach Claude Julien

36 Comments

Claude Julien has seemingly been on the hot seat for years, but he’s always managed to keep his job. Well, that changed on Tuesday morning, as the team announced that Julien had been relieved of his coaching duties.

Assistant coach Bruce Cassidy, who is in his first year with the Bruins, has been named interim head coach.

Julien was the longest tenured coach in the NHL before his firing. He had been behind Boston’s bench since 2007. During his time in Boston, he led the team to a 419-246-94 record and he leaves the organization as their all-time leader in wins.

Under his watch, they made the playoffs in seven of nine years, including two trips to the Stanley Cup Final (they hoisted the cup in 2011 and lost in 2013). His 57 postseason victories are also a franchise record.

Unfortunately for the former Jack Adams Trophy winner, the only two times he missed the postseason with the Bruins came in the last two years, and if the season ended today, they’d be on the outside looking in again.

Despite being the top possession team in the league, the Bruins haven’t managed to win with much regularity.

The Boston Globe’s Fluto Shinzawa believes there are four reasons behind this decision. Here’s an excerpt from that story:

The decision is about four things. First, the Bruins hope it will provide a short-term jolt to their sleepwalking players. Second, it is a business decision, signaling to a dissatisfied customer base that the current state of play is unacceptable. Third, it gives Cassidy, always intended to be Julien’s successor, a running start to 2017-18. 

Fourth, and most critical, it is management’s only play. The trade market is frozen. The next wave of prospects won’t arrive until next year. A streak of questionable decisions has locked them into their roster. Firing Julien is the last card Neely and Sweeney had left.

According to ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun, Julien’s contract runs through the 2017-18 season. He was earning $2.5 million this year and he’ll get $3 million next year.

Cassidy’s debut as head coach will have to wait a few more days. The Bruins haven’t played since Saturday’s wacky 6-5 loss to the Maple Leafs, and they won’t play their next game until Thursday. Starting that day, they’ll play three home games in four nights before taking off their break.

The bye week will allow Cassidy and the remaining staff to assemble a game plan for the way they want to approach the last stretch of the season.

As was mentioned above, Cassidy is in first year with the Bruins, but he isn’t completely new to the organization. He spent the last five years as the head coach of the Bruins’ AHL affiliate in Providence. Before becoming the head coach there, he served as the team’s assistant for three years.

This will be his second stint behind the bench of an NHL team, as he also coached the Washington Capitals from 2002 to 2004. Cassidy helped lead them to the playoffs in his first year, but he was fired in year two after the team got off to an 8-16-1 start.

Bruins GM Don Sweeney will hold a news conference at 11:30 a.m. ET.

Video: Oilers showed off depth beyond McDavid in beating Sharks

Leave a comment

As the Art Ross winner and Hart Trophy frontrunner, there’s no doubt that Connor McDavid is the catalyst for the Edmonton Oilers.

Still, the scary thing for opponents is that, while he created chances against the San Jose Sharks, McDavid wasn’t exactly lighting them up for points.

Nope, as Mike Rupp and Jeremy Roenick discuss in the video above, the Oilers advanced thanks as much to depth scorers – and deft goaltending from Cam Talbot – as they did because of McDavid’s blistering combination of skill and speed.

Now, the Anaheim Ducks rank as an interesting opponent. While the Sharks could slow McDavid with one of the few blueliners who could really give him trouble – relatively speaking – in Marc-Edouard Vlasic, it remains to be seen if Anaheim can accomplish the same.

(A fully healthy Hampus Lindholm would increase their odds, mind you.)

Either way, the Oilers’ “other guys” deserve some credit, and they get it in the video above.

The West’s next round is now set (and wide-open)

3 Comments

Saturday was a great day for fans of brevity and revenge.

Three of a possible three series ended on this day, with the Rangers dispatching the Canadiens, the Blues eliminating the “better” Wild, and the Oilers knocking off the Sharks in six.

The Rangers await either the Bruins or Senators and the Penguins face the winner of the Leafs – Capitals series out East, but we now know how the West shakes out.

St. Louis Blues vs. Nashville Predators

Both teams provided some of the upsets of this young postseason. Each features a red-hot goalie in Jake Allen and Pekka Rinne. Interesting.

Anaheim Ducks vs. Edmonton Oilers

There will be a lot of orange. We may also see a ton of goals with Ryan Getzlaf on fire, Oscar Klefbom headlining the list of unhealthy players and Connor McDavid possibly able to really take off against a Ducks defense that is beat up in its own right.

It’s already been a strange season out West, with the Kings missing the playoffs and first-round exits for the Sharks and Blackhawks. Get ready – and giddy – for things to get even weirder as the postseason goes along.

Oilers win first series since 2006 after Sharks fall crossbar short of overtime

14 Comments

After making the playoffs for the first time since 2006, the Edmonton Oilers weren’t just “happy to be there.” They confirmed as much by eliminating the San Jose Sharks with a 3-1 victory in Game 6, winning the series 4-2.

Yes, those young Oilers just eliminated the team that represented the West in the 2016 Stanley Cup Final. Wow.

Ultimately, winning the breakaway battle in the second period indeed made the difference. Leon Draisaitl and Anton Slepyshev scored on their chances in the middle frame while Patrick Marleau could not; Slepyshev’s 2-0 goal ultimately became the series-clincher.

Now, that’s not to say that Marleau was a drag on San Jose. If this is it for one of the faces of the franchise, he had a great 2016-17, including generating the Sharks’ final goal of the postseason.

The Shark Tank was alive after Marleau reduced the Oilers’ lead to 2-1, and more than a few blood pressures rose – both in Edmonton and San Jose – after the Sharks got this close to tying things up.

Wow.

With this result, the West is set. The St. Louis Blues will take on the Nashville Predators while the Oilers face the Anaheim Ducks.

As much as people try to put the training wheels on Connor McDavid & Co., the West is wide-open enough that it’s not so outrageous to imagine a big run for Edmonton.

Beating the Sharks is a pretty nice way of adding an exclamation point to that statement win. And hey … they beat the Sharks last time around, too.

Canadiens sound a lot like Wild after playoff exit (without ‘better team’ talk)

Getty
3 Comments

Much like the Minnesota Wild earlier on Saturday, the Montreal Canadiens are stunned to approach the golf courses so rapidly.

Many of the responses after the New York Rangers eliminated them in Game 6 sound a lot like what the Wild uttered, though there’s no potential bulletin board material like Bruce Boudreau’s line about the better team failing to win four games.

Max Pacioretty viewed this early exit as a “missed opportunity” and never really believed that an elimination was coming.

Claude Julien provided parallel comments to Bruce Boudreau, believing that Montreal generated chances but lacked “finish.”

Brendan Gallagher? He worries that this might have been the Canadiens’ best chance, something the Wild must also worry about with a difficult offseason ahead.

Now, it’s likely that most teams speak about being shocked and expecting better after being booted from the postseason.

Still, these reactions do shine a light on the staggering nature of some of these exits. Will the likes of the Blackhawks, Canadiens and Wild struggle to be in such prime positions in the future? With the Sharks needing a comeback against the Oilers, could the trend continue on Saturday?

The bottom line is that, instead of preparing for a Game 7 after winning the Atlantic Division, the Canadiens are packing up their stuff and worrying about re-signing Carey Price. That’s a pretty stunning turnaround, regardless of the soundbytes available.