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The Team Behind the Team is in Place

by John Bishop / Boston Bruins
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.
This morning new Bruins head coach Claude Julien spoke with the media about his hiring of Craig Ramsay and Geoff Ward, both of whom will join Doug Houda and Bob Essensa as his assistants going into Boston's 2007-08 season.

"Obviously I am going to (further) define their roles…as we go along," explained Julien via phone from his home in Ottawa. "But right now, what I have done with Craig Ramsay is to assign him to take care of defenseman…he's a guy with lots of experience in that department.

"Geoff Ward is a guy that I've coached with for a couple of years, in Hamilton and with Team Canada in international competition. He's a guy who knows me well and we read off of each other extremely well. So he will be working the bench with us, dealing with the forwards and (communicating) with Doug Houda.

"(Houda) is going to be the eye in the sky for us and will be overlooking things (from the press box). Doug will have the roll of helping us out from up top and letting us know about certain adjustments we need to make during the game and he'll also be looking at the players…and seeing different areas we can work on individually," he said.

Ramsay arrives in Boston after coaching seven years with Tampa Bay and has a distinguished NHL resume as a player.

While with the Lightning he served as the team's Associate Head Coach and helped lead the Lightning to four consecutive Stanley Cup Playoff appearances, two Southeast Division titles, and a Stanley Cup Championship in 2004.

Before being hired by Tampa Bay during the 2000-2001 season, Ramsay spent eight seasons in NHL coaching and management with Buffalo, Florida, Ottawa, and Philadelphia.

A native of Weston, Ontario, Ramsay played his junior hockey with the legendary Peterborough Petes of the OHL and played NHL hockey from 1971-1985 with the Buffalo Sabres.

In 1,070 career NHL games with Buffalo, Ramsay scored 252 goals and recorded 420 assists. And as a testament to his defensive prowess, won the Frank J. Selke Trophy  (best defensive forward) in 1985.

Craig Ramsay
"It was important to me to get a guy who had some experience in the (NHL)," said Julien of his decision to hire the former Sabre. "That was Craig Ramsay. He's been around and that's really important."

Ward comes to Boston after spending the 2006-2007 season in Germany as the head coach of the Iserlohn Roosters of the German league. Previously, Ward had spent five campaigns in the Edmonton organization, where, beginning in January 2001, he coached in the American Hockey League.

"I had worked with him (previously)," said Julien of Ward. "I think it's important, especially this year, that (our) transition is made quickly -- in order for us to turn things around.

"And I wanted to make sure I was comfortable."

Indeed, Julien and Ward are quite familiar with each other and that should lead to a nice comfort zone behind the Bruins bench. While with the Oilers, Ward served as Julien's assistant coach for the AHL's Hamilton Bulldog's when the squad worked its way to the AHL's Calder Cup semi-finals in 2002.

Furthermore, Ward actually took over for Julien as head coach during the 2002-2003 campaign when the Montreal Canadiens hired Claude and later that season the Bulldogs went to the AHL finals.

As such, the two Hamilton head coaches were co-winners of the American Hockey League's Louis A. R. Pieri Memorial Award, given annually to the league's coach of the year.

Geoff Ward
Ward, a resident of Manitouwadge, Ontario, also served as the Edmonton Oilers development coach during their 2005-2006 run to the Stanley Cup Championship and has been in the coaching profession since 1994 when he started with Kitchener of the OHL.
Beyond Ramsay and Ward, while he made the announcement about his new staff members, Julien praised the men who were present previously and implied that Houda and Essensa, having been with the B's last season, will be a valuable resource to each member of the new staff.

"Chatting with Doug Houda at the Development Camp, he obviously has a good feel for what the team is all about, having been around last year," said Julien. "With Bob Essensa, it's the same thing.

"I think (Bob) did a great job (when) I watched him work with the goaltenders."

Julien believes that the groundwork has been laid for a successful B's turnaround.

"When you come into a new organization, it's important that you feel comfortable with the people around you and that the transition is going to be as smooth as possible (so that the team) is able to make some strides early on," he said.

And Julien was clearly saying that the new arrivals, coupled with the coaches who had worn Black & Gold last season, have put the Bruins in good stead for the future.

"I have a staff I am very comfortable with," said Julien.
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