Unlike Peter Chiarelli, head coach Claude Julien got to keep his job after the Boston Bruins missed the playoffs in 2014-15.
But retaining Julien was no slam-dunk decision for new GM Don Sweeney. First, the two men had to make sure they were on the same page, philosophically speaking.
Turns out, both were.
“Don and I have had talks and have a very, very similar outlook on what’s needed and what we want to do,” Julien said, per the Boston Herald. “There was never an issue there at all. That’s why it’s worked out. We seemed to be seeing the same things. Personality-wise, we’ve known each other for a long time. It wasn’t as tough a process as far as evaluating as people might think, but it was more about the time that was needed for him to feel comfortable with everything.”
All that being said, it’s hard to imagine Julien keeping his job if the Bruins fall flat again. Ownership still has high expectations for this team; that much was made crystal clear last season.
The challenge for Julien is that Boston is a team in transition. While core players like Zdeno Chara, Patrice Bergeron, Tuukka Rask, and Brad Marchand remain, their success will depend greatly on the success of their youngsters.
“I came up coaching junior hockey, and I know how those young players are,” Julien said in June, per NESN. “I’ve had a lot of patience with those guys. Sometimes, you have to take a hard stance, but it doesn’t mean you’re not patient with them, and that you’re not trying to make those guys better.”
Though his reputation may say otherwise, Julien has had success with youth in the lineup. When the Bruins won the Stanley Cup in 2011, Marchard and Adam McQuaid were rookies, and Milan Lucic was younger than both of them.
The difference then, however, was that the youngsters were significantly outnumbered by players with experience.
As Julien was quick to point out, “there’s a lot of veteran players on that Chicago team, and that’s why they’ve been there three years in a row.”