Claude Julien (Joel Auerbach/Getty Images)
New Boston Bruins GM Don Sweeney has some big decisions coming his way, one of which is what to do with coach Claude Julien. In Wednesday’s introductory press conference, Sweeney said Julien is the Bruins coach, “as of today.” Meanwhile, Guy Boucher has been talking about the Devils regarding their coaching job.
There has been much speculation about the status of Bruins coach Claude Julien’s position with the team and new Boston GM Don Sweeney did little to put those questions to rest during his introductory press conference Wednesday.
Sweeney, who was named the eighth GM in Bruins history early Wednesday, met with media to discuss his vision for the club, what he likes about the squad and what will need changing when he was asked about Julien. His response was one that was more wait-and-see than he’s-our-guy.
"He's the coach of the Boston Bruins as of today, for sure," Sweeney said.
He expanded further on possible personnel changes in the press conference, but even then, it’s still not clear at all which direction the newest Bruins GM intends to take his coaching staff.
“I’m going to take the necessary time to evaluate,” he said. “It will start with Claude, and we’ll dissect a little bit of the personnel pieces that he feels he’s had in the past that he’s had success with, and what we currently have, what we need to identify that could be missing — and we’ll go from there.”
This past season, Boston was a far cry from the dominant teams they iced earlier in the decade. There were difficulties offensively, the loss of Zdeno Chara early in the season and his subsequent drop in play hurt the team and, in an extremely tight Eastern Conference wild-card race, the Bruins fell just short of making the playoffs due to late-season losses to the Washington Capitals, Florida Panthers and Tampa Bay Lightning.
What it will come down to, according to Sweeney, is a matter of philosophy about how the team should be run. Sweeney said that while he was still in his previous job as assistant GM, the Bruins interviewed Julien as a GM candidate before the club promoted Sweeney to the GM job.
“I also acknowledged to Claude during this whole process that I think tremendously of him as a coach and as a person,” said Sweeney. “So I think it’s just about lining up philosophical approaches that I believe in, that he believes in, and that we can move the group forward.”
The Bruins have a group that has been successful in the past and is one healthy season away from being playoff contenders in the Eastern Conference again. With or without Julien, Boston will need to make some changes, but it remains to be seen if the 2010-11 Stanley Cup winning coach will be present to see the Bruins get back to Cup contention.
And while uncertainty surrounds Julien, the future of the coaching position in New Jersey remains up in the air.
Last season, after relieving coach Peter DeBoer of his job, the Devils went with an unusual setup utilizing three coaches – Lou Lamoriello, Adam Oates and Scott Stevens – on their bench. Lamoriello oversaw the entire operation, while Oates took care of the forwards and Stevens the defense.
With Lamoriello taking a step back from coaching and relinquishing his GM duties to hand the reins to Ray Shero, the coaching search in New Jersey is now underway. One potential candidate, and someone who had reportedly been in the mix for the Toronto Maple Leafs gig before Mike Babcock landed the job, is former Tampa Bay Lightning coach Guy Boucher.
According to TVA’s Louis Jean, Shero and the Devils have conducted “preliminary discussions” with Boucher, but it remains unknown whether or not they’ll further purse the one-time Eastern Conference finalist.
Boucher has been out of the league since 2013. After coaching in Tampa Bay for two and a half seasons, Boucher was fired following the Lightning’s sluggish start to the lockout-shortened campaign. Over his tenure in Tampa Bay, Boucher had a record of 97-78-20.