Bruins fire head coach Claude Julien

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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.

Flyers sign Michal Neuvirth to two-year, $5 million extension

PHILADELPHIA, PA - OCTOBER 12: Goalie Michal Neuvirth #30 of the Philadelphia Flyers looks on against the Florida Panthers at Wells Fargo Center on October 12, 2015 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
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The goaltending situation in Philadelphia has become a lot more clear today, as they’ve signed Michal Neuvirth to a contract extension.

According to ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun, it’s a two-year deal worth a total of $5 million ($2.5 million cap hit).

Neuvirth was set to become an unrestricted free agent at the end of this season.

The 28-year-old has been between the pipes for nine of his team’s last 11 games, but he’s dropped four of his last five decisions. He has a 10-9-1 record with a 2.90 goals-against-average and a .887 save percentage in 24 games.

The duo of Neuvirth and Steve Mason hasn’t worked out too well in Philadelphia. Both players have struggled to find consistency in their game, which has been problematic for the Flyers.

Even though Neuvirth will be back, they can still shake things up by moving on from Mason, who is also scheduled to become a free agent on July 1st.

The Flyers also re-signed forward Pierre Edouard Bellemare earlier today.

Report: Flyers extend Bellemare — two years, $2.9 million

PHILADELPHIA, PA - APRIL 24: Pierre-Edouard Bellemare #78 of the Philadelphia Flyers looks on against the Washington Capitals during the third period in Game Six of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals during the 2016 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Wells Fargo Center on April 24, 2016 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Washington Capitals won, 1-0. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
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Philadelphia has re-upped with checking forward Pierre-Edouard Bellemare on a two-year extension, per Sportsnet.

It’s believed to be a $2.9 million pact, one that carries a $1.45M average annual cap hit. That’s a nice raise for the 31-year-old, who’s in the last of a two-year pact at $712,500 per.

Bellemare joined the Flyers for the ’14-15 campaign, following a lengthy career in Europe that included stops in his native France, and a lengthy spell in Sweden. He’s emerged as a good energy guy in the bottom-six forward group, one that can kill penalties and chip in with a bit of offense.

Today’s news might come as a bit of a surprise for Flyers fans, however. Bellemare was a pending UFA and, given he’s on the wrong side of 30, there was speculation he’d be sold at the deadline in the hopes of recouping some assets.

Report: Jesper Fast out indefinitely after suffering shoulder injury

NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 30:  Jesper Fast #19 of the New York Rangers skates against the Washington Capitals in Game One of the Eastern Conference Semifinals during the 2015 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Madison Square Garden on April 30, 2015 in New York City.  Capitals defeated the Rangers 2-1.  (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)
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Some tough news if you’re a fan of the New York Rangers.

According to Larry Brooks of the New York Post, Jesper Fast will miss some time with what’s believed to be a separated shoulder.

Fast suffered the injury after being flattened by Alex Ovechkin in last night’s 4-1 loss to the Washington Capitals.

The 25-year-old has been a key contributor for New York this season. He’s up to five goals and 15 assists in 59 games. He’s also second in shorthanded ice time and in hits among all Rangers forwards.

The Rangers went into last night’s game without Mika Zibanejad and they also lost Chris Kreider momentarily yesterday, but he was able to return.

Rangers head coach Alain Vigneault is expected to provide an update on Fast’s status after today’s practice, but don’t expect the news to be good.

Canadiens acquire Dwight King for draft pick

LOS ANGELES, CA - JANUARY 27:  Dwight King #74 of the Los Angeles Kings celebrates his goal to take a 3-2 lead over the Colorado Avalanche during the second period at Staples Center on January 27, 2016 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
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The Montreal Canadiens are keeping busy.

Just one day after acquiring Steve Ott from the Detroit Red Wings and Brendan Davidson from the Edmonton Oilers in separate deals, general manager Marc Bergevin completed another trade before the deadline when he acquired forward Dwight King from the Los Angeles Kings in exchange for a conditional 2018 fourth-round draft pick.

It will become a third-round pick if he re-signs with the Canadiens this summer when he becomes an unrestricted free agent.

In 63 games this season King has eight goals and seven assists.

He also adds to the Canadiens’ apparent season-long attempt to become a grittier and tougher team, now joining a roster that now has seen Ott, Shea Weber, and Andrew Shaw join it over the past eight months.

For the Kings, it is a move that clears out a bit of salary cap space, perhaps opening the door for them to complete a deal with Colorado for Jarome Iginla, something that seems to be a work in progress on Wednesday.

More

Canadiens corner market on pests, add Steve Ott

Canadiens get Davidson for Desharnais