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The Claude Julien Era Has Begun

by John Bishop / Boston Bruins
Newly announced Boston Bruins hockey head coach Claude Julien, right, shakes hands with Bruins General Manager Peter Chiarelli during a news conference in Boston Thursday, June 21, 2007 where he was introduced to the media. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)

"I have known Claude for a long time," began Peter Chiarelli's introduction to the 28th coach of Boston's professional hockey club. "I first met him when I was still a player and I used to skate in the summers.

"All the pros and college guys would skate (together).

"It was shortly thereafter that I started following his coaching career," he said.

Julien followed up his 12 pro seasons as a player (he played 14 NHL games with the Quebec Nordiques in the mid-eighties) by being the bench boss of Hull of the QMJHL. There, he led Hull to the postseason in four straight season behind the Olmpiques' bench, with their most impressive run coming in 1997 when they won junior hockey's Memorial Cup. 

"One of the things that stuck in my mind…was not so much the 1997 team," said Chiarelli of his friend's career. "It was the team two years later, when he had 17 rookies.

"He went to the Quebec league final only to lose against a really good team with a goalie you might know. Roberto Luongo." 

John Bishop is the beat writer for He covers the Black & Gold hoping to offer a positive look at the team, not only from the stands and the press box, but also from inside the locker room. A graduate of Boston U. and Northeastern, 'Bish' grew up in Connecticut and moved to the Hub of Hockey in 1993. Since then he has made all four rinks at the Beanpot schools, as well as both Gardens, his icebound homes away from home. Prior to joining the TD Banknorth Garden staff in 2005, Bishop had written for several publications, with his primary focus being college hockey. He coauthored the book Bygone Boston in 2003 and hopes someday to pen a bio of Hobey Baker.
Corralling the excitement and raw talent of first year players to bring them to the verge of a championship is no easy task, but it's Julien's reputation as a teacher, which brought his young skaters' talent to the fore.

"He's always had success with his teams by implementing a disciplined, hard system," explained Chiarelli.

What exactly is a hard system? 

"(When) I say hard system I mean it's aggressively executed," explained Chiarelli.

More on that later…

When he moved on to Hamilton, he taught a former Bruin draft pick and future member of the Black & Gold named Bobby Allen his system and The Metro West Daily New's Doug Flynn wrote yesterday that Allen was clearly in favor of Julien's candidacy for the B's big job. 

"He's one of the better coaches I've had in my career," Allen, now a free agent, told Flynn. "I can speak for all the guys I played with in Hamilton; we all thought he was a great coach."

That's not to say he did not know how to tear into a player, however, and via Flynn, Allen explained that Julien could be very tough, too.

"You could talk to him anytime," said Allen. "He's a good guy to have around. He's always joking with the guys, makes everybody feel calm and relaxed. But at the same time, he's not afraid to call guys out. He'll get in your face, and that's important. A coach has to do that to keep guys sharp."

His unique motivational style, mixed with a successful junior and AHL coaching docket, opened the Montreal Canadiens eyes, and they chose him to be their coach in January of 2003. 

"In his first full season with Montreal, his record their was their best record in 10-years," recounted Chiarelli. "He's had considerable success, in addition of course, to this last year in New Jersey when they won the division."

Speaking for himself for the first time as a member of the Black & Gold, Julien seemed genuinely proud to take on the mantle of being the Head Coach of the Boston Bruins.

"I am looking forward to the challenge of bringing this team to the level of expectation that the organization, the players and, most importantly -- the fans, want," he said. "This team has a lot of potential and has a lot of great players. 

"Basically I want to come in here, like I've done with many of my teams in the past, and be a team that is well structured and a team that is going to work together as a group, going in the same direction.

"And," he said, finally, using the phrase that is becoming the theme of the 2007-08 season," I want us to be harder team to play against."

What exactly does that mean, Coach? 

"When we talk about harder…defensively you want to certainly cut down on the goals against and you want to make sure that you limit the scoring chances. Also, harder to play against can (also mean) the physical part of it.

"We want to go at them and be able to finish our checks and obviously driving the net.

"And doing the things that it takes to score goals," explained Julien.

The bottom line? 

"You want to be gritty in all areas," said the new coach. "And I think that's what we want to establish here, not only with a few players, but with a whole group…you want to be aggressive.

"You want to recover the puck as quick as you can and it's always important that the first fore checker goes in there hard and finishes his checks.

"But at the same time we have to also realize that the rules in this game have changed and you have to make some (adjustments) because of those rule changes," said Julien. 

"We are going to have a structure that is going to have everybody playing the same way and if we do that I think we are going to be a hard team to play against."

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