|Julien (AP Photo/Charles Krupa) |
Before the beginning of last season, Boston Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli talked about the stability that head coach Claude Julien had helped provide the Black & Gold during his first campaign in Boston.
Coming off a tough 2006-07 campaign, the Bruins needed some drastic changes, and Julien delivered, leading the B’s to a dramatic seven game series with the Eastern Conference champion Montreal Canadiens in 2007-08.
“He’s helped bring structure into the team play,” said Chiarelli. “We wanted to shore up our defensive side of the game and he’s done that
“He’s showed that he can change in mid-stream and I expect him to be able to do that going forward.
“He’s been very good here. We all have goals and objectives, and I know he has goals and objectives and he said that we have to be better,” said the GM.
In 2008-09, the Boston Bruins proceeded to get better – much better -- and, following the end of the regular season, Julien was nominated for the Jack Adams Award, which is awarded “to the head coach who has contributed the most to his team’s success.”
That success manifested itself in several ways…
- Julien’s club’s 116 points was the third-highest total in franchise history, a 22-point increase over 2007-08 and 40 points more than 2006-07.
- The Bruins ranked second in the NHL in offense with 274 goals, a dramatic turnaround from their #25 ranking in 2007-08 when they tallied 212.
- Julien’s club ranked first in the NHL in defense with 196 goals allowed.
- The club hit the 30-win mark in their 41st game of the season (30-7-4) on Jan. 8 vs. Ottawa, the fastest they have reached 30 wins since 1929-30 (30-4-1).
Julien, who is in his second season with the Bruins, also guided Boston to the Eastern Conference's top record, and saw the Bruins finish 53-19-10 for 116 points. And nobody can forget a two-month stretch from November 1 through January 1 where the team posted a record of 24-2-1.
A dramatic sweep of the Montreal Canadiens had all of New England in a Stanley Cup Playoff frenzy, but a heartbreaking second round exit finds Bruins fans wishing for a quick summer.
As they did during this year’s success, they’ll look to Coach Julien to coax just a bit more out of their favorite hockey club.
“This is something we can grow from,” said Julien during the Bruins final media availability of the season. “Learning how to play as a team is something I think we did well this year.
“Learning to win in the playoffs is something we continue to hopefully get better at…but part of it is also knowing how hard it is, and how tough it is to win in the playoffs.
“This is our goal for next year -- hoping that this lesson that we learned in the last round will stay with us for a long time and will help us deal with it when the situation comes again,” he said.
Given the club’s dramatic improvement, a return of “the situation” seems inevitable.
"I met with Claude, and there’s a lot of things that we talked about, but the fact of the matter is, we’ve put another three, four or five solid foundation blocks in place, and whether it’s experience, whether it’s new players, whether it’s another year with a tremendous coaching staff, there is unfinished business, but we’re on the right track," said Peter Chiarelli. "We’re heading in the right direction.”
And all indications point to Coach Julien as the guy who will guide the B’s to their ultimate destination.