BOSTON Its something of a no-brainer for the Bruins to hand Claude Julien a multi-year contract extension heading into the final year of his current deal with the Bruins.
The longtime coach has achieved everything during a consistently excellent five years with the Bruins, leading them on their steady incline prior to last years playoffs.
Julien has won a Stanley Cup, hes won a Jack Adams Award, he led the Bruins to a No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference three years ago, and hes accumulated the most playoff wins of any coach in Bruins history.
Hes certainly the best Bruins coach of the last 20 years and arguably the best Bs bench boss since the bombastic Don Cherry during the 1970s era of the Big Bad Bruins.
The teams of the last five years have been tough, intimidating bruisers out on the ice capable of pushing around the biggest, strongest opponents. But theyve also traditionally exhibited great discipline within their offensive and defensive structure.
The Bruins dont routinely beat themselves with mindless penalties and have nearly always toed the line for their coach. They are traditionally among the NHLs top 10 teams in goals-against average, and they have finished in the NHLs top five in scoring in two of the last three years.
Add all of those accomplishments to a coaching staff thats also developed young players like Milan Lucic, David Krejci, Tyler Seguin, Brad Marchand, Adam McQuaid and Tuukka Rask over the five years, and it makes a pretty good resume.
It paints the picture of a hockey coach running a highly successful NHL program, and one thats willing to change when things need to be adjusted.
"I think you evolve every year that you coach," Julien said. "Im one of those guys that always said that the minute you feel that you know it all, is when you got to retire. Most of the guys that know it all are retired, right? But I keep trying to improve every year. Whether its through making changes and whether its something you guys see or whether its things I do in the dressing room or preparation or whatever. Youre always trying to improve and changes things . . . keep them fresh.
Julien can be tight with the controls, and particularly about his preferences with his hockey team, but the players have always had his back. With his consistent, prepared, open-minded coaching, general manager Peter Chiarelli ultimately trusts in his head coach.
"As a manager I know when I want to add a player to our mix. I know when I have complete confidence in Claude and his staff and that players will become better," Chiarelli said. "It helps me as a manager: you can look at the progression of players that weve brought into this lineup and has made this team better. Its a testament to Claude and his staff, so that makes my job a lot easier.
"Over Juliens tenure here hes shown the ability to adapt. He has a very, very disciplined team, and thats again a testament to his coaching. Yet at the same time his team is a very tough team, and thats a very difficult balance to maintain. Hes been able to do that with success. Technically hes one of the best if not the best coaches in the league."
So it should have been automatic to give the hard-working Julien a contract that will keep him in Boston until at least 2014-15. The new deal added to the five years already under Juliens belt give him the kind of NHL coaching job security that few people other than Nashvilles Barry Trotz and Buffalos Lindy Ruff truly enjoy in this day and age.
Those are my role models, said Julien, as Ruffs enters his 15th season with the Sabres and Trotz has been the only head coach in the 13-year history of the Predators. I love the organization, love the city and I think my family's extremely happy here. I couldnt ask for a better situation for myself personally.
The one thing that I said when I first came here was my goal was to try and win a Stanley Cup here in Boston. Weve accomplished that. Now my goal is to win another Cup for this Boston franchise. I remain hungry. I remain committed and dedicated to understanding that the expectations here in Boston are always very high. I love that kind of standard because thats what makes you a better coach. Thats what makes you a better team.
Julien is already looking at being one of the most accomplished coaches in Bruins history simply by studying the career totals and success in Boston during his five years in the city.
But winning another Stanley Cup and squeezing more dominant team success out of a solid nucleus might just catapult Julien into the best ever conversation that hed be far too modest to start himself.