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.