As we wait to hear from Boston brass on the firing of head coach Claude Julien — GM Don Sweeney will meet with the media later this morning, smack in the middle of the Patriots’ Super Bowl parade — we should turn our focus to the recently departed.
What’s next for Julien?
The well-regarded bench boss, known as one of the NHL’s best defensive minds, shouldn’t be out of work very long — assuming he wants to get right back in. With the ’11 Stanley Cup and ’09 Jack Adams on his resume, Julien boasts the kind of credentials only a handful of active coaches can match.
And oh yeah, he’s the winningest coach in Bruins franchise history.
Let’s take a quick look at some potential landing spots.
Las Vegas: This seems like the most obvious one. The NHL’s newest expansion franchise really couldn’t do much better in terms of landing its first-ever coach, and owner Bill Foley said there’s a chance they hire their man prior to the end of this season.
What’s more, Foley said GM George McPhee is looking for a guy with experience.
“He’s not looking for a first-termer,” said Foley. “Some may or may not be available. … I would say the coach that we name is going to be a recognizable individual.”
Vancouver: It’s easy to connect the dots on this one. The team is led by GM Jim Benning, who for years worked with Julien in Boston. The pair won the aforementioned Stanley Cup together. Current bench boss Willie Desjardins has been under heavy scrutiny at times this year and, though the club did climb back into playoff contention over the last month, it’s about to embark on its toughest part of the schedule.
If they crater, the Canucks could be looking for a change.
Florida: While the Panthers seem committed to interim head coach Tom Rowe, could the allure of having Julien on board for a playoff push — and beyond — change things up?
The bottom line is that Julien’s the hottest free agent coach to hit the market since Barry Trotz in 2014. The Caps, you’ll recall, fired Adam Oates with a year left on his deal in order to land their guy, as it was reported both Carolina and Florida were in the mix for Trotz’s services at the time.
That last bit is important. If teams are uncertain with their current coaching situation and knows this could be their one shot at getting Julien, how big a splash will they be willing to make?