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Bruins Give Their Bench Boss Vote of Confidence With Extension

by Caryn Switaj / Boston Bruins - In his eighth season, Head Coach Claude Julien has been at the helm of the Boston Bruins for 650 games.

Out of those games, 553 have come during the regular season, as he gets set to coach Game No. 554 on Tuesday night at TD Garden, and 97 have come in the postseason.

There should be plenty more nights behind the Spoked-B's bench moving forward.

On Sunday, General Manager Peter Chiarelli announced that Julien had been signed to a multi-year contract extension.

"I'm happy to be here," Julien said following his club's practice on Monday at TD Garden. "Because as far as I'm concerned, this is a great team here, we have an opportunity every year to at least be contenders for the Stanley Cup, and I feel just as hungry this time around as I was before we won the first one."

"So I'm excited to have an opportunity to have a team that can compete for that, and be part of it."

Since Julien was hired as the 27th coach in team history on June 21, 2007, the Bruins haven't missed the playoffs.

They are the only team to have advanced to at least second-round play in five of the past six postseasons. Their 53 postseason wins during that span are the second most among all NHL teams.

That's not the sort of success that drives Julien and the Bruins, though - it's what was accomplished in 2011, and how to get back there.

"I think that the thing that I feel the most that's important right now, is that no matter what we've accomplished - and I don't want to go through all those things we've accomplished, but I'm really still very hungry to win another Stanley Cup," said Julien.

"You know, you want to succeed, and when you start getting tired of doing that is when you start to become weaker as a coach, and I really feel strongly about this organization and the direction it wants to go in, and I feel strongly about my intentions about wanting to win."

"I was as disappointed as everyone else last year, because I really felt we had the team to go all the way, so you come back and you're hungry, and as long as I have that, and I have the players and what they call 'fire in the belly,' I'm extremely happy here being in this organization, as long as they want me."

While terms of the agreement have not been disclosed, Julien has been given a strong vote of confidence from the Bruins' front office and ownership.

"Claude is one of the top coaches in the NHL and has consistently shown a passion for winning through his coaching," Chiarelli said in the team's press release on Sunday. "Coaching is a difficult profession at the best of times and what Claude does in implementing structure in his systems, and having a solid defensive foundation while allowing freedom in offensive play is no easy task."

"During his time with the Bruins, he has excelled in maintaining this difficult balance, and his longevity here speaks volumes. He has coached the Bruins to a Stanley Cup and a Cup Final appearance and our goal to win with him at the helm remains the same as we move forward."

The players showed their confidence in the bench boss, too.

"We’ve had that stability for a while now and I think Claude’s proven himself as one of the best coaches in the League," said Patrice Bergeron. "And has really done a great job developing the young guys and us as core players and helping us become better leaders. It’s well deserved."

Bergeron has been with Julien through his tenure. He's seen the turnaround of the team, and the bench boss' part in that.

"I think he’s played a big role, him and Peter, in rebuilding the team and turning the franchise around," said Bergeron. "Also, I think our team identity and mentality here needed some changes and I thought he was there to make sure we had a lot more pride in wearing the Spoked-B and playing a lot harder and working harder."

"By doing that, we got the success that we wanted and we achieved the goal that we wanted in 2011, and we definitely want more of that."

There's always much focus on the stability of the organization and the emphasis on keeping a strong core group of players. Julien factors into that equation as well.

"Knowing that he's going to be here for a few more years minimum, he's proven throughout the year that he can compete at a high level for us," said Daniel Paille. "He's been in the playoffs, every year I've been here, so he knows how to win, he's got the system to do it, and we all believe in him, and he knows that, and Peter knows that, too."

"For us, that's awesome to see that stability in our coach right now."

Like a player, Julien doesn't see this extension as a guarantee.

"Well, there never is a guarantee, right? An extension is one thing, but the length of that contract is never a guarantee - that's up to me to make sure I do a good enough job to be able to fulfill my contract," Julien said. "So it's nice to have the vote of confidence from the organization, I appreciate that, from the owner on down."

"But in my mind just like a player who signs a new contract, it's nice to get that new contract, but you've got to go out there and do your job."

The Bruins have risen to the top with Julien, and they've also faced tribulations.

"There's been some difficult times that we've faced and I think the thing with Claude is, when there's times for him to get upset with us, he does, and when there's times for him to pat us on the back, he does that as well," said alternate captain Chris Kelly. "So I think he does a great job of managing his players and knowing how to get the most out of us."

"Obviously when people get rewarded for doing a good job, whether it's player, management, coach, you're happy for them," Kelly said. "Claude's done a terrific job the whole time he's been here, so it was nice that management rewarded him with that."

Only Detroit's Mike Babcock, with the Red Wings for a decade, now has a longer tenure with his current team. Julien attributes that to the staff around him.

"It just goes to show how important a good fit is, you know, and I really felt comfortable from the first day here with everybody," said Julien. "From the owner - I sincerely respect the owner and his sons…they're great people and they're people who want to win - working my way down, all the way from the GM and assistant coaches, our trainers have been pretty well almost the same group from Day One, because we've gelled well."

"So it's been a lot of fun, but that goes to show how important that chemistry is, not just for the players but for the people that work with you, around you. When you have good chemistry, it makes your job a lot more fun and cohesive and obviously will give you a lot more success that way."

During his press conference, Julien highlighted the help of his assistant coaches, the equipment staff, the medical staff and trainers who help players recover.

"I always said you're as good as the people that surround you, and that is the truth. Even to this day, I'll never deviate from that," Julien said. "And as a coach, personally, I think it's understanding that if you think you've got it all figured out, you're in trouble."

From coaching juniors, through the AHL, Montreal and New Jersey, Julien worked his way to Boston, and hopes to stay for a while.

"Again, it's having that right fit," Julien said. "This has been a real good fit for me, and you're proud to be part of an Original Six team, it's pretty awesome."

"When you can stick with a team for this long, you consider yourself fortunate. And fortunate - I'm repeating myself - because the people around me have had enough confidence and have given me that extension."

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