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Head Coach Claude Julien and Assistant Coach Joe Sacco Conference Call Transcript

by Staff Writer / Boston Bruins
On Joe Sacco joining the Bruins coaching staff…

Joe Sacco: Well, it’s obviously an exciting time to be part of the Bruins organization right now and the success that they’ve had in the past number of years. And moving forward, especially with the group now, I feel pretty fortunate right now to step in and serve in the capacity that I’ll be doing so. So it’s an honor, and like I said, I feel fortunate to be part of such a strong group, a team that’s had success for a number of years, and hopefully we can continue that success moving forward.

Claude Julien: To follow up on that, I think I had a number of real good interviews, and at the end, Joe [Sacco] really stood out for us because of a number of reasons. He’s got some great experience, not only as a hockey player but also as an assistant coach, whether it’s been in the American League or NHL. He’s also been a head coach in both leagues as well, so I think just the fact that we’ve been able to have a guy who has that much experience coming into our group, and to come in with — I guess, also the fact that he’s been a player for such a long time, we all know that he’ll have instant respect from our players. For me, it was important to get one of those kind of coaches because of the fact that I give them a lot of responsibilities, as you guys all know, and it was important to have somebody that I felt real comfortable and that I could trust extremely well. So Joe was that guy.

On whether Sacco was talking to any other teams this offseason…
Joe Sacco: Actually, the Bruins were probably the only team that I really had serious dialogue with. There was a couple of other opportunities but they weren’t as intriguing as being with the Boston organization. Like I said before, I think the opportunity here — being able to work with Claude [Julien], a guy that has a lot of experience and has done a solid job here with the Bruins, and being a part of an organization that, again, has had the success that they’ve had, to me, it was an opportunity to just come in and work with good people and work with a good organization. There wasn’t a lot of other things going on. I kind of made a decision back when Buffalo was moving in a different direction with their coaching staff that it would have to be the perfect fit. It would have to make sense not only for myself but for my family as well, and then Boston was obviously a great choice and I’m glad that it worked out on both sides.

On the decision to keep Bruce Cassidy in Providence…
Claude Julien: Well, I think it’s a little bit of a lot of different reasons. The one you mentioned is certainly an important one, and Bruce [Cassidy] has done an unbelievable job of developing players. And to me, he’s still a fairly young coach. He’s coached in the NHL, and I think at the same time, it gives him an opportunity — I think he’s one of those guys who should certainly be considered to be a coach in the NHL again, too. Those were some of the things we talked about. He’s a former defenseman, and so am I and Doug Houda, so we kind of wanted to lean a little bit toward a forward at this time. So he was certainly a strong candidate and certainly a very capable one, but again, we sat down with Bruce [Cassidy], Peter [Chiarelli] and I, and had a real good chat. We talked it all out, and he’s certainly happy in Providence. He mentioned that he’s certainly not unhappy there, but I think the decision was a decision we made for all the right reasons.

On Geoff Ward’s departure and Joe Sacco’s responsibilities going forward…
Claude Julien: I think with Geoff [Ward] leaving — Geoff wanted an opportunity to be a head coach, and so he had that opportunity in Mannheim. He talked to us about it. He was very willing to honor his contract if he had to, but it was an opportunity for him, and like we’ve done with so many other different people, we don’t hold people back if that’s what they want to go for. We’re more than willing to accommodate and support. So that was Geoff’s situation going to Mannheim as a head coach. As far as the responsibilities, I think a lot of those things will be resolved in the next little while here. I haven’t really decided exactly what Joe is going to do versus what some of those guys — Jarvy [Doug Jarvis] or Doug Houda — are going to have different responsibilities. Those are things that I’ve got a couple of different options that I’m going to kind of contemplate and make that decision. But as I told Joe when I spoke to him, is that every one of my assistant coaches has just as much responsibility as the other. So everyone has a fair amount of that responsibility that will keep them busy and give them some work to do as far as being accountable for, and that’s the way I like to do my work and, at the same time, validate these guys. They’re good people. They’re good coaches and you give them some responsibilities and you make sure they take advantage of it. So I can’t answer the whole question because it hasn’t been decided yet.

On the Bruins’ offseason thus far…
Claude Julien: Well right now, I think there’s still some time and there’s still some things that can be done and there’s no doubt we’re still working on a few things. But nonetheless, we don’t feel like were in a real tough situation. We’ve lost Jarome [Iginla], but as you’ve probably heard, I think Loui Eriksson is a player that can be even better than he was last year. I think we started seeing that at the end of the year, and he could be a replacement for Jarome as a possibility. But at the same time, Chris Kelly will be coming back, so are we going to look for somebody to be a third liner or are we going to look for somebody who’s going to be replacing Iggy [Jarome Iginla]? I think there’s just a couple of things here that we have to resolve, but at the same time, we do have some young players in Providence that are going to deserve a look. So when training camp starts, I think a lot of those decisions will probably be taking place.

On the interview process…
Joe Sacco: It started — I think I reached out to Claude [Julien] toward the end of June, after Geoff [Ward] had moved on with his coaching job over in Europe. And I reached out to Claude, and we connected at some point later in the month of June and sat down, had the opportunity to talk with him and just really get to know each other a little bit. Obviously I knew of him, but didn’t know him that well personally, and I thought that the time that we spent together that first meeting went very well. He made me feel very comfortable and it was very easy talking with him, and it was just to get a feel for kind of what the job entailed a little bit, and what Claude was thinking about doing moving forward. So it started like that, and then I stayed in touch with him over the course of the next couple weeks just here and there, and I know that he was going through a process with some other people that he was talking to as well, and he made that clear with me when we had our first meeting, and that he would stay in touch and keep me posted as things went along. So he did, and I just got a call earlier this week from Peter Chiarelli and I went in and had the chance to speak with him. I believe it was Tuesday, and things just kind of unfolded after that. And then Claude reached out to me later that night. We talked again for a little bit and then he offered the position to me at that point.

On coming back to Boston…
Joe Sacco: Well, it’s exciting and obviously, from a family standpoint, we’re thrilled to be back. I said before, and I said this to Claude [Julien] when we were talking and I also mentioned it to Peter [Chiarelli], to me, it’s just an added bonus. There’s so many things that are attractive about coming back. Like I mentioned before, with the organization and the structure that they have in place, and with the current team and the success, so I don’t want to repeat myself there. But coming back to this part where it all kind of started, it’s just an added bonus for myself and my family.

On coaching in Boston…
Joe Sacco: I think it’ll be a different change. The mindset of the team is probably a little bit different, as far as being able to handle some adversity and handle some of the obstacles that you face during the course of the season — the ups and downs — and it seems like they have obviously a strong veteran presence. They have, from what I’ve seen and talking with Claude [Julien], great internal leadership inside the dressing room, so they’re able to manage the highs and lows of the season very well. I’ve dealt with young teams. I know that the time I spent in Colorado, we were a fairly young team the years I was there and Buffalo, we had a fairly young team as well. We had some veterans, though, and we had veterans on both teams. At that same time, it’ll be a bit of a change, but it doesn’t really change what we’re doing. Boston still has some younger players thrown into the mix as well, and like Claude said earlier, there are going to be some guys competing for jobs from the Providence B’s. So I’m comfortable with experienced players, young players. I’ve had to work with both, and I actually know a few of the veteran guys. I played with Zdeno Chara his rookie year when he was with the Islanders. I played with Dennis Seidenberg his rookie year when he was with the Flyers, and I actually coached Johnny Boychuk in Lake Erie for a couple of years and in Albany as well. So I’m familiar with some of the veteran players on the team.

On how the game has evolved…
Joe Sacco: Yeah, I mean I think the obvious one is the speed of the game. The game is played at a much, I think, higher pace. It is played fast. One of the reasons I think it is played faster is because the teams are so well coached and a lot of teams have good structure in their game. And when you have good structure it seems that players know their responsibilities on the ice, they know their teammates, where they are going to be at times, they know where their teammates responsibilities lie and I think that leads to an up-tempo game. So because of all of the good coaching and the structure that is involved in the game now, it’s allowed the team to play fast. Obviously the new rule change back in the first lockout in ’04/’05 there certainly – with the new rules that were implemented at that time, certainly, since then – the obstruction calls that are made now which allow for the guys to be quicker to pucks and that’s made for a faster game as well. But one thing hasn’t changed, obviously and to me that is still the work ethic and the competitive level of players. All those intangibles, the passion for the game. Those things never change.

On whether he believes that the fact that he coached in the Eastern Conference helped him during the interview process…
Joe Sacco: Maybe a little bit, but I think Claude [Julien] would have to answer that more but I don’t think so. I think it just had more to do with the comfort level we had with each other and Claude [Julien] had with me. But spending four years in Colorado too and the one in Buffalo, you become pretty familiar with the League. Even though you’re out west and you don’t see them as much you’re always doing your due diligence and you’re watching games and you’re following – trying to follow every team as best you can. Having spent the one year in Buffalo, yeah I mean it gave me the opportunity to see the Boston team up close and personal a little bit more and we played them more. So there was more work as far as the preparation that went into the games and, you know, scouting their tendencies and things like that. You know, I’ve had the opportunity to watch them for a while now and you get to watch them. They’ve had some deep playoff runs, obviously the year they won the Cup, so they have quite – they definitely have an identity to their team. But I wouldn’t say that the one year in Buffalo was a deciding factor but Claude [Julien] would probably answer that a little bit better.

Claude Julien: Certainly, as I mentioned before his experience was extremely valuable to us but like he said, he spent more years in the Western Conference so he’ll have a real good knowledge of that as well. We as coaches, the three of us that are still here, have a pretty good knowledge of the Eastern Conference. So if anything I think he will be able to help us even more with the Western Conference side.

On his perception of his team heading into next season...
Claude Julien: Well I think, again, those are things that if I answer now I might change my mind a week into the season or even in preseason. So those are always hard questions to answer because this is what we do as coaches. You know, we adjust. We make adjustments to power plays, to our play throughout and so on and so forth. So I think just because Jarome [Iginla] is gone doesn’t mean that we have to blow everything up to maybe a couple of players moving around to have the right format and that may happen along the way. But certainly, I think we have a good nucleus here to continue to have a good power play.

On how long he wants to coach the Bruins…
Claude Julien: As long as I can, I’m not ready to retire yet. I’m still enjoying it, it’s a lot of fun and even if you have some disappointments like we did in the playoffs, you have to look back and say, ‘okay, we had a great season’ and get yourself revved up for the next challenge and so on and so forth. I may look old but I still feel young at heart.
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