Julien, Fernandez are key newcomers for Bruins
Much was expected from the Boston Bruins last season.
The team was aggressively remade after finishing in the cellar of the Northeast Division two years ago.
Peter Chiarelli, a respected player-development whiz, was imported from Ottawa to be the new GM. Dave Lewis, one of the architects of the Detroit Red Wings’ dynasty, signed a long-term deal to be the coach. And Boston was a big player in the free-agent market, signing high-scoring center Marc Savard and franchise defenseman Zdeno Chara to monster deals.
The result? Boston missed the playoffs again, finishing last in the division for the second-straight year. The fallout? Lewis lost his job, replaced by Claude Julien, who led the Devils to a division title last year before being dismissed with three games left in the regular season. A number of players, including goalie-in-waiting Hannu Toivonen, lost their jobs. Others are on the hot seat for this season.
Still, there are reasons for optimism in Boston.
The Bruins addressed their biggest weakness by trading for No. 1 goalie Manny Fernandez, who was with Minnesota for the past four years. Plus, Chara says he will be much better in his second time around. Additionally, Savard came tantalizingly close to 100 points last season, finishing with 96.
So, the pieces are in place for Boston to make a push for the postseason. Now, it is up to the Bruins to take the expected strides with their on-ice performance.