clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

"You Suck." / "No, YOU Suck." - Will Claude Julien Break the All-Time Bruins Win Record?

Claude Julien has 240 wins as the Bruins' head coach. He recently passed Don Cherry for 3rd on the all-time wins list for the team, and only the great Art Ross (361) and Milt Schmidt (245) ahead of him. Julien should take over second place on the list sometime in March, with only Ross to go. Will he become the all-time wins leader in Bruins history?

"Who the hell is Phunwin, and why does he think I'm getting fired in the next couple of years?"
"Who the hell is Phunwin, and why does he think I'm getting fired in the next couple of years?"
Mike Stobe

You Suck! Lilybraden says absolutely.

On January 28, the Bruins 5-3 win over the Carolina Hurricanes gave Coach Claude Julien his 232nd win behind the bench for the Boston Bruins. He passed Don Cherry for third most wins as a Bruins coach behind the bench that night. He will soon pass Milt Schmidt. Schmidt has 245 wins, so Julien should pass him sometime next week, the way this team is playing. And then, only one coach in Bruins history will have more: Art Ross with 367 wins behind the Boston bench. This was over 1924-1945 (three different stints)

So it begs the question: Will Claude Julien become the winningest coach in Bruins history? I say "Heck Ya!" Phunwin sucks and he says "No Way Jose!"

Hired in 2007, Julien was part of the master plan to change the culture of the Boston Bruins. The Bruins routinely made the playoffs and would often end their season in the first or second round. The Bruins hadn’t won a Stanley Cup since 1972, the memories of Bobby Orr and the Big Bad Bruins had become just memories, the most recent Stanley Cup memory was watching former Captain Ray Bourque bring the Stanley Cup to City Hall Plaza after asking to be traded to a contender after nearly 21 seasons playing for the Black and Gold. In 2006, 1st overall draft pick Joe Thornton was traded to San Jose because then General Manager Mike O’Connell didn’t think Thornton was a champion. In comes new GM Peter Chiarelli, who quickly made a coaching change after his first season with Dave "too many men" Lewis and brought in Julien.

Julien coached for 3 seasons for the hated Habs with one playoff appearance (being the Bruins despite being down 3-1 in the series) he was fired midway through the next season and then had a stint with NJ where we was fired with 3 regular season games left. However he seems to have found his place in Boston.

Hired by the Bruins in 2007 he started with a .500 record though 12 were OTL it was enough to get in a challenge the #1 seed Montreal Canadiens. Everyone was thinking sweep, but they pushed in to a seventh game at Centre Bell after an exciting Game 6 OT Winner by recently benched Phil Kessel.

2008-2009, (53-19 -10) was good enough for 1st in the Northeast and another Game 7 loss in the second round to the Carolina Hurricanes (I hate you Scott Walker) The following season, (39-30-13) was only 3rd in Northeast, but enough to get past the US Olympian Goaltender Ryan Miller and the Buffalo Sabres to meet up a eventually collapse to the Philadelphia Flyers after being up 3-0 in the series. His defensive style and approach to rolling 4 lines paid off despite speculation during the regular season that the Bruins would have to make a coaching changes, the Boston Bruins followed that speculation up with one of the most fun games that season and not just because Rene Rancourt sung your holiday favorites during intermission. The Bruins went out and beat the Atlanta Thrashers 3-1, starting with Shawn Thornton setting the tone dropping the gloves 2 seconds into the game and ending with a full scale melee with less than 5 minutes left to go. The culture with this Bruins team has been to stand up for each other, and that goes for their coach as well. During the playoffs the Bruins met the hated Montreal Canadiens in the first round, dropping the first 2 games at home, the speculation was that Boston exiting in the first round would result in a coaching change. The Bruins answered by winning the next 3 games in the series (two at Centre Bell) and an exciting double OT game at home. Eventually the Bruins won Game 7 in OT, moving on to sweep the Flyers, win a nearly perfect game 7 at home against the Tampa Bay Lighting and win the Stanley Cup against the heavily favored Vancouver Canucks on June 15, 2011. The following season despite the dreaded Stanley Cup hangover the Bruins went on to have a pretty good regular season (49-29-4) for 1st in the Northeast to lose in the first round in a Game 7 vs the Washington Capitals who had just found defense like a prisoner finds Jesus.

This years squad shows no signs of slowing down the trend of winning hockey either with only 2 regulation losses through Feb 23rd. In fact, a 48 game season benefits a team that is largely in tact and a coach that is even handed in his approach. The Bruins by and large don’t let losses get them down, but they don’t forget them and the don’t get too high over wins either. The are simply all business (not dissimilar to a local football team).

Julien expects defensive responsibility, he’s benched high draft picks that are offensively sound for not playing defense (Kessel, Seguin) Rolling four lines that can put the puck in the net and stop the opponent from scoring enables Julien to easily plan for injury, the team has endured long absences from key players due to concussions Bergeron, Savard & Horton. This Bruins team can play a defensive game, but they can also beat teams 7-6 if need be. The evenhanded approach and roster just lends itself to successful hockey.

Julien is known for putting his players in situations that they will have success as well. Despite the criticism, Julien has continued to put Chris Bourque in game situations (powerplay & shootout) that he’s had success at the AHL level. With the bulk of this Bruins team on multi year deals, there’s no reason to think that the chemistry they have and the leadership of Julien shouldn’t keep moving forward. The Bruins should be in contention to win the Stanley Cup for years to come.

Julien signed a multi year extension in July 2012 which puts him behind the bench through 2017. If Julien remains behind the bench for that long there is no reason to believe he wouldn’t hold the all time Bruins Coaching record for wins. He averages 45 wins a season, despite 2013 being a shortened season, likely will hit this record in 2016-2017 season.

The Bruins organization deserves a lot of credit for knowing what they want their hockey team to look like and creating a culture that attracts free agents and rewards current players will multi year deals. It might not be the sexiest hockey, but it sure is winning hockey. In my opinion I’ll always enjoy wins will always be my favorite stat.

No, YOU Suck!

Watch this clip for a moment:

Nathan Horton Overtime Winner - Montreal Canadiens 3 Vs Boston Bruins 4 - Round 1 Game 7 - 04-27-11 (via xXxCrosby87Xx)

It's one of the greatest moments in Boston Bruins history. Trailing the series 2-0, losing the first two on home ice, the Bruins stormed back to win 4 of the last 5, and Nathan Horton scored in overtime. You don't need Paul Harvey to tell you how the rest of the story goes.

Soak it in, because as much as you and I love it, I guarantee there's one guy who enjoys it more: it's the moment that saved Claude Julien's ass. Had Boston lost that series, Claude was going to be fired. Look at that clip again, and take note of all the things that had to go perfectly for Horton to score that goal. Faceoff ace Jeff Halpern got tossed out of the circle. Adam McQuaid timed his pinch perfectly. Milan Lucic did yeoman's work to get the puck over to Horton, and Horton timed his one-timer perfectly. If any of those things don't go just so, Horton doesn't score that goal and Montreal probably goes on to win the game, because historically, the Bruins didn't get to have nice things when they played Montreal.

One moment separated Julien from the unemployment line, and instead catapulted him toward the status of Bruins legend. I'm glad for him. I like Claude, and I think he's a good coach. But I also think that saying he'll become the franchise wins leader shows an awful lot of faith in a guy who was damn near shown a pink slip at the end of that playoff series. I remember watching game 2 in the Man Cave, discussing who the next Bruins coach was going to be in the Public Skate. It was a simpler time; back when the former proprietor of this website and I would alternate game recaps according to who was more sober.

And yet, with the inexplicable firing of Lindy Ruff (I mean, seriously, the guy made the playoffs 4 times in 12 seasons when he didn't have Dominik Hasek, what more can you ask for?), Julien is the dean of Eastern Conference coaches. He's been the Bruins coach for 6 whole years, and he's the most senior coach in the East. Claude Julien, a guy who's been fired in two previous coaching stops and was nearly cashiered after that Montreal series, is a coaching Iron Man all of a sudden?

The real story here is that the days of one coach running a team for as long as Ruff did are long gone. The old saw that "coaches are hired to be fired" has never been more true. And the Bruins are a franchise that has historically had a very short leash on head coaches. You've got to go all the way back to Milt Schmidt to find a guy who's been behind the bench longer than Julien has. Robbie Ftorek and Mike Sullivan won division titles and had top 2 seeds, and were gone soon after. True, Julien can win games at his current pace and break the record in 2016. I grant that's possible. In fact, of all the possible outcomes, it's probably the most likely one. But there are so many things that can happen along the way that can derail it that it seems, to me, like a foolish bet. An injury to Tuukka Rask or Zdeno Chara could make this team look mortal. The Bruins could run into yet another hot goaltender in the playoffs; this team seems to draw hot goaltenders like a magnet draws iron filings. A bad first round playoff loss could put Julien back on the hot seat. Winning a Stanley Cup in Carolina sure didn't give Peter Laviolette lifetime employment, did it? Nor did Randy Carlyle's Cup in Anaheim guarantee him long term job security. Indeed, all Julien did with winning that Cup was raise expectations. Yup, winning a Stanley Cup just makes your job less secure. Irony can be so ironic sometimes.

Good coaches get fired all the time in the NHL. Bruce Boudreau is showing right now that he's a damn good hockey coach, but Jaroslav Halak had the performance of a lifetime against his Capitals in 2009-10, and then, of course, Russian Machine Never Gives a Damn, and that was the end of him. Joel Quenneville committed the unpardonable sin of losing to the Detroit Red Wings in the playoffs, and got fired by Colorado. I'm going out on a limb and guessing they'd take a do-over on that, if it were offered.

I hope I'm wrong. I'd love nothing more than Julien to ring up wins in Boston for another decade, bring home a couple more Stanley Cups and retire on his own terms, universally regarded as the best coach in Bruins history. So yeah, there's a good chance Julien will take over the coaching wins title sometime in 2016. But there's an even better chance that something you or I don't expect will happen before that time.