SAUGUS Claude Julien and Peter Chiarelli have both been through the drill before.
The Bruins head coach was serving in the same capacity for the Montreal Canadiens during the 2004-05 NHL lockout, and Chiarelli has lived through three work stoppages along the way as a player agent (1994-95), an assistant general manager (2004-05) and finally as the GM of the Bs this season.
Chiarelli and Julien have kept busy by traveling to Niagara and Belleville to check out Dougie Hamilton and Malcolm Subban and making themselves regular attendees at Providence Bruins practices and games. But just like everybody else both GM and coach are waiting impatiently through the peaks and valleys of the CBA negotiations between the NHL and NHLPA.
So on Thursdays deadline set by the NHL to save an 82-game schedule beginning on Nov. 2, Chiarelli was hoping for the best while bracing for another potential flat-line in negotiations. The worst: no conversations will pass before the end of business on Thursday and then the NHL will be expected to cut a significant portion of the regular season schedule a month or more on Friday.
Its a hockey bummer, of course, but one that Chiarelli is advising all of his employees to ride through.
Im not used to being on the sidelines and watching. I obviously respect the two parties greatly and know theyre trying to get something done here, said Chiarelli, who along with Julien dropped in on a Mens League game at Hockey Town USA on Wednesday night as part of efforts to stay involved with the community during the lockout. I told all my scouts not to get too high or too low with all of the media stuff and false starts. Of course, Im finding myself getting too high and too low.
Im a little impatient, bored and frustrated . . . all of that stuff. But theyll figure it out.
Julien meanwhile was at the helm of the Habs franchise when the NHL lost a year in 2004-05, and was actually fresh off a dispatching of the Bruins during the previous springs Stanley Cup playoffs. The Bs coach learned some level of patience by sitting out an entire hockey season, but wasnt eager for hockey history to repeat itself again this season.
Julien is still optimistic that wont happen.
Having gone through it before, I know the stages that you through . . . but it wont make things any better. Im like everybody else that Im anxious to get it going. Its out of my control. Were stuck in the middle and just trying to prepare as best we can, said Julien. We want to be ready yesterday. If it starts then well be ready to go. Theres no doubt about that. That keeps you motivated, but theres an empty dressing room that we hope fills up soon.
Im still very optimistic that theres going to be a season. I continue to think that way. There are times when you get more excited that you hear news, and then the next day it kind of gets thrown out the window. But in my mind Im staying as ready as I can be because Im a believer there will be a season.
So both Julien and Chiarelli will wait patiently through the NHLs Thursday deadline to start the regular season on Nov. 2, and keep an ear to the ground for the next piece of heartening news amid a disheartening lockout. Perhaps it will be next week or next month, but both members of the Bruins organization feel its coming this season eventually.