Claude Julien spent a lot of time in Boston, but in this business all good things eventually come to an end.
Julien, who coached the Bruins from 2007 to 2017, was fired in February after a difficult stretch. He didn’t remain unemployed long, as he ended up being hired by the Canadiens just seven days after being let go by Boston.
Now, he’ll head to Boston for the first time since being fired by the Bruins. Don’t forget, you can watch tonight’s game on NBCSN or you can stream it live by clicking here.
Even though things didn’t end particularly well for him with the B’s, Julien has nothing negative to say about the organization and the city.
“When you spend that much time with an organization and a city, you have to cherish the opportunity to go back. I had great years there, I was treated well,” Julien said after practice on Tuesday.
“As much as there’s a rivalry on the ice (between Montreal and Boston), off the ice, I only have good things to say about Boston, the organization, the city and the fans, everything. I really enjoyed my time there, but in this business you need to move on so I’m going to move on tomorrow and go to Boston and work the best way I can to come away with two points.”
During his time with the Bruins, Julien led the team to a 419-246-94 record. In 2011, he helped lead their team to their first Stanley Cup title since 1972. They also made a second appearance in the Stanley Cup final under Julien in 2013, but they lost that series to the Chicago Blackhawks.
On top of the success they had as a team under his watch, the 57-year-old also helped certain guys develop into dominant players. It’s no secret that Julien is a defense-first kind of coach. That doesn’t always make for the most entertaining hockey, but it certainly worked out pretty well for Patrice Bergeron, who became of the great two-way players in the NHL while Julien was his head coach.
The Bruins will surely put up a video tribute on the scoreboard that will likely stir up some old emotions, just don’t expect those emotions to come from netminder Tuukka Rask.
“He was not playing a shift on the ice, so it doesn’t really matter. He was coaching, so it was nothing special,” said Rask, per NBC Sports Boston.
Julien admitted he hasn’t necessarily thought about the reaction he’ll get from Boston fans once he returns to TD Garden, but he hopes it’s a positive one. Even if he gets booed out of the building, he said that it won’t change the positive view he has of the city of its fans.
As much fun as it is to look back at his decade in Boston, Julien has to focus on his current job because he certainly seems to have his hands full with the Canadiens.
Things haven’t been easy for him since he took over behind the bench last year. Not only were the Habs bounced in the first round of the playoffs last year, it also looks like they won’t be anywhere near the postseason this spring. The Canadiens are currently nine points behind Pittsburgh for the final Wild Card spot in the Eastern Conference. Unless there’s a drastic change in their play, they could become sellers at the trade deadline.
No matter what happens in Montreal this season, it’s hard to envision them parting ways with their head coach, who has four years remaining on a contract that reportedly pays him around $5 million per season.