Ainge: Despite C's troubles, Rivers' job is very safe

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Ainge: Despite C's troubles, Rivers' job is very safe

LOS ANGELES Not even a month into the NBA season and the Los Angeles Lakers kicked Mike Brown - a former NBA coach of the Year in 2009 with a winning percentage better than 65 percent - to the curb.

Avery Johnson, who was the Eastern Conference Coach of the Month for October and November, was fired by the Brooklyn Nets.

Both were fired for, among other things, underperforming.

About a third of the season has been completed, and it's clear that the Celtics (14-14) fall into that category.

But don't look for the C's to make any kind of radical changes anytime soon.

"Doc (Rivers) has proven his worth as a coach," Danny Ainge, Boston's President of Basketball Operations, told CSNNE.com. "There's nobody I want more to coach my team, than Doc Rivers."

Like most NBA observers, Ainge is well aware of the quick-to-hire, quick-to-fire mentality that has pervaded many NBA franchises in recent years.

"First of all, every situation is different," Ainge said. "There's so much information that no one knows, and really information that never gets public and a lot of misinformation that does get public depending on who is giving the information or which side is telling the story. I don't think anyone gives up on coaches this fast without there being a feeling that there's not a long term solution or they're just not compatible; coaching staff with owners and management. It's a very hard dynamic, the world of professional sports.

Ainge added, "One thing I've learned in this business is patience is a virtue. That's one of the reasons why I love Doc. Because when things aren't going well, there's no one I want in my corner more. Anybody can put on a smiley face and come to work with energy and enthusiasm and passion when you're winning. But it takes a special person to do it with an 18, 19-game losing streak with a bunch of young players and to still have that respect and work ethic before we were able to put a great team together and obviously, have some success."

Still, that doesn't fully soothe the pain that many in Celtics Nation are feeling right now when they see a team that was built to compete for one of the top spots in the Eastern Conference.

So far this season, the Celtics look more like a team trying to fight their way into the playoffs.

Ainge will be the first to acknowledge that the C's aren't performing nearly as well as he or anyone within the organization expected.

And while it has taken longer for this team to get on the same page than he would have liked, by no means have the C's struggles been solely the fault of Rivers.

"When the team isn't winning, that's just as much my fault as it is Doc's fault," Ainge said. "We're in this together, with the success and the failure of the team. A lot of times, players aren't doing their part. Sometimes it's the coaches not doing their part. Sometimes it's me not doing my part, and my staff. We have to evaluate all of it and find the real reasons why the team isn't performing to our standards and try to make the best of it."

Rivers speaks candidly about where the Celtics are right now, showing no signs of wavering on his belief that this team will eventually start stringing together wins and eventually develop into the kind of team that can at least compete with the elite teams in the East.

"The NBA is a league of ebbs and flows," Rivers said. "That's just the way it is. You go on good streaks, you go on bad ones and you hope you right the ship and go back on a good one."

And when that turn-around does come about, it won't necessarily be the work of one or two men, either.

"To have unity at ownership level, at management level and coaching level is critical when you're trying to build winning teams," Ainge said. "I like what we have. But sometimes at some places, it's just not there. I just think that these things (head coaches getting fired quickly) happen in sports, and they always will."

Haggerty: Good, but not good enough, again the story for Bruins

Haggerty: Good, but not good enough, again the story for Bruins

BOSTON – The all-important results continue to elude the Bruins at the time when they need them most.

The Black and Gold lost their third game in a row, 1-0, to the Chicago Blackhawks at TD Garden Friday night when they allowed the game-winning goal with less than 90 seconds remaining in regulation. It was a simple defensive breakdown and some great tic-tac-toe passing with Marian Hossa finishing things off, but it also felt like a game where the Blackhawks coasted against a wounded Bruins team for 58 minutes before turning it on when it was winning time.

The winning goal was a cross-ice pass from Tanner Kero to Hossa, with the puck sliding right between the legs of Adam McQuaid in the slot, and Hossa picking a corner while giving Tuukka Rask zero time to react side to side.

“We had a game plan in place and our guys executed well, they were ready to play,” said Claude Julien. “One little mistake and it’s in our net, and you lose yourself a pretty important hockey game.”

So, now the Bruins have taken only one point in their past three games, have dropped behind the Ottawa Senators in the Atlantic Division standings and continue to skate around like they’re wearing the weight of the entire organization on their shoulders.

“At the end of the night it is another loss and that’s the biggest thing. Did your team play fairly well? I think so. I think we competed hard, but then again you’re dealing with some growing pains. We had an icing late in the game so that’s not necessary, but the winning goal that goes through three of our guys and in our net with a minute-and- a-half left,” said Julien. “We have to stand there again, and take the responsibility for our own actions. It’s unfortunate because that minute-and-a-half that was left in the game kind of tarnished everything we had done for the first 58 minutes.

“I thought we played pretty well against a good team. We had contained the guys that we needed to contain. We didn’t score any goals – I don’t think we did a good enough job there - we had some chances but again you got to find ways to score goals. That’s where we are at.”

Clearly, the Bruins didn’t give up a ton defensively and Rask had been solid for the first two-plus periods, but there was also a sense Chicago didn’t bring its best game either when Boston outshot the Blackhawks 17-6 in the opening period. It was also clear that, aside from a couple of good, early chances from Tim Schaller and Brad Marchand, along with a Joe Morrow breakaway chance, the Bruins offense wasn’t doing enough work to get closer to the Chicago net for any sustained pressure.

So, instead of a solid result with dark clouds swirling over Causeway Street that a big change is needed to jolt a stagnant team, the Bruins hang up another loss where they outshot their opponent and end up with nothing to show for it.

These are the kinds of losses that test morale and togetherness and could either be taken as a sign of things tightening up for the Bruins or of things continuing to spiral away from a team that just needs wins at this point.

“I’m sure everybody’s feeling down right now because we lost, but you can’t start pouting too much. You’ve got to move on,” said Rask, who allowed one goal on 22 shots in the loss. “[There’s a] big game coming up Sunday, and next week, so it’s a loss and we have to move on. [We have to] get ready for the next one. I’m sure guys are pissed today, but tomorrow’s a new day.”

Tomorrow is a new day for everybody on the Black and Gold including Julien, who is scheduled to still run practice on Saturday as the B’s bench boss before speaking to the media prior to the team leaving for Pittsburgh. So, it’s business as usual after another loss on Friday night in a classic Original Six matchup that’s clearly most of the luster from where it was at four years ago, but one can only sit and wonder how much longer business as usual cuts it for a hockey club that continues to flounder. 
 

Julien sidesteps job security question with "shock journalism" comment

Julien sidesteps job security question with "shock journalism" comment

BOSTON -- With three crushing losses in a row at a time when results are really all that matters, the Boston Bruins are reeling at the wrong time during the regular season. The B’s tried their best to win a game 0-0 with strong defense against a sleepy Chicago Blackhawks bunch on Friday night, but ultimately coughed up a Marian Hossa goal in the final minutes for a 1-0 regulation loss at TD Garden.

The defeat continued a swirl downward for the Black and Gold over the last week, and was a second straight shutout loss on home ice for the first time in almost 15 years. The losing stretch has also kicked up the chatter that Claude Julien is in trouble as head coach of the Bruins, and the hockey club’s underperformance up and down the lineup is ultimately going to cost the NHL’s longest tenured bench boss his job.

The Ottawa Senators have passed the Bruins in the Atlantic Division, and it’s only a matter of time before the Toronto Maple Leafs move by them as well with both Toronto and Ottawa holding six games in hand on Boston. Combine all of this with the B’s having missed the playoffs in each of the previous two seasons leading into this one, and it shouldn’t be at all surprising that Julien is squarely on the coaching hot seat.

The B’s bench boss was asked about his job security after the Chicago loss, and clearly didn’t appreciate the tough, but appropriate question.

“Well, I’m not into shock-journalism,” said Julien in a prideful tone. “So I’ll stay away from that question if you don’t mind.”

The Bruins posted their Saturday schedule shortly after Julien and the B’s players had addressed the media following the loss, and sure enough the embattled coach is scheduled to address the media post-practice as part of the regular practice day routine. So it doesn’t seem that a move with Julien is imminent this weekend despite another loss, but both the coach and the players know something is going to happen to shake things up with this team if they continue to struggle.

“Right now it’s a results based situation, so if you’re going to keep losing games then probably something’s going to happen,” said Torey Krug. “But right now we’re just pretty down emotionally after this game, so I don’t want to look at the big picture. I just [want to] focus on what’s going on in this room, and hopefully we can come back with a good effort the next game.”

A good effort might help Julien’s standing with the Bruins in the short term, but it’s impossible to imagine the B’s bench boss making it through the rest of the Bruins regular season given all of things working against him right now.