Claude Julien: 'I intend to keep the Bruins-Canadiens rivalry going'

Claude Julien: 'I intend to keep the Bruins-Canadiens rivalry going'

BOSTON – Claude Julien came to Boston ten years ago as a picture of class, character and principles while taking over as head coach of the Boston Bruins, and that never really changed through 419 wins and a glorious Stanley Cup run in 2011. That continued when he sent out a first class, thankful statement following his firing as head coach of the Black and Gold last week, and it was at the forefront again on Wednesday as he hosted his first conference call as head coach of the Montreal Canadiens. 

Before answering any questions, he wanted to acknowledge the work done by the man he was replacing, Michel Therrien, behind the Habs bench. Julien admitted he still holds a respectful, soft spot for the Bruins team after he was unceremoniously dismissed. He watched portions of the three Bruins games following his ouster as head coach, and said he couldn’t bring himself to root against wins for the players he battled with for the last ten years.

“Any time a coach doesn’t get a chance to finish a season then there’s disappointment. [Don Sweeney] came in, and he had certain things in mind and I had to respect that. You have to respect that your boss is your boss,” said Julien. “So far who could say he didn’t make the right move with three wins in a row? Certainly it had an immediate impact. But at the same time, do I feel bad? Yeah. When you look at the things we did well: puck possession and defensively. I think we were first in all [puck possession] categories, and spent the less amount of time in our own end, and gave the least amount of shots from the slot. We had a lot of good things, but at times it seemed like we just couldn’t get it together on certain nights. 

“We were starting to score, and we’d already been scoring quite a bit. I thought it was close. We can predict whatever we want. The Bruins are obviously on a pretty good roll there now, so for me it is time to move on. You don’t spend ten years here, and even watching the games, I wasn’t sitting at home hoping that they would lose. I have too much respect for all those players that had been enormous for me during my career in Boston. Having won Stanley Cups with the Bergerons, the Krejcis, the Charas and the Marchands to name a few, Tuukka was there as well. There are a lot of good people. I’d say every guy in there was a good person. I never had issues with any of them. So you sit here and you want them to succeed. Having said that, I’m with another team now and I need to succeed with that team. There’s obviously a rivalry that exists between those two organizations, and I intend to keep that rivalry going. But on the ice, not off the ice. I have too much respect for those [Bruins] players.”

Whether Julien wanted the bitter on-ice rivalry of the past to return or not to Bruins-Habs, the wick has been lit for an explosive clash, or two, after Julien immediately jumped from the Bruins to the Canadiens his week. He signed on to coach Boston’s most hated rivals for the next five years before he’d even had a chance to decompress on his bye week vacation in Vermont. Julien has already explained things are going to be deliciously heated between Boston and Montreal for years to come. 

It’s the way it is always supposed to be, and now Julien will have an entire chapter all to himself after heading back to Montreal after spending a decade winning with the Black and Gold in Boston. 

Bean: The (incorrect) case for the Bruins signing Kevin Shattenkirk

Bean: The (incorrect) case for the Bruins signing Kevin Shattenkirk

The Bruins should not sign Kevin Shattenkirk. They really shouldn’t. 

Yet they might. Pierre McGuire said on TSN Radio Tuesday that his guess is that Shattenkirk, arguably the best free agent defenseman on the market, will end up in Boston.

It is remarkable how universally against a Shattenkirk megadeal B’s fans have seemingly been. A Twitter poll with over 3,600 votes this month had Bruins fans preferring Boston sign 40-year-old Zdeno Chara to a two-year, $8 million extension than the 28-year-old  Shattenkirk to a seven-year, $45.5 million deal. 

That is obviously the correct conclusion, but considering how hard the false “Chara is old and bad” garbage is pushed in this town, it’s telling that 64 percent would rather he stick around than the team build the defense around Shattenkirk. 

Of course, Shattenkirk is not a bad player just because he’s been overrated in recent seasons. He’s a decent second-pairing defender and strong power play asset who can be penciled in for 40 points a year. The Bruins already have that in Torey Krug, and he makes less than Shattenkirk figures to command. Shattenkirk is also a righty who plays on the right, which is not a need for the Bruins, whereas Krug is a left shot who plays both sides. 

Add in the Bruins’ cap situation due to some bad contracts and they why of Shattenkirk would be a bad signing doesn’t need to be re-hashed. By this point, the explanation’s been given a few times in a few different places. 

So what would the Bruins’ actual case for signing Shattenkirk be? 

TO KEEP IT MOVING 

Last season was encouraging for Bruins fans because it saw them reach the playoffs for the first time in three years while also seeing young talent emerge. Yet they still only made the playoffs by two points, something of which Don Sweeney and Cam Neely are undoubtedly aware. 

So for all the good signs, this could be a fringe playoff team again if more improvements aren’t made, and missing the playoffs for the second time in three years would mark a step back in the eyes of ownership, perhaps putting jobs in danger. It would be a shame if money were spent irresponsibly for the sake of saving jobs, but Shattenkirk would definitely make the Bruins better next season, even if it crippled them financially down the road. 

TO PULL A CHIARELLIAN FREE AGENT SWITCHEROO

With McAvoy set to be a top-pairing player and Brandon Carlo a good second-pairing option, the Bruins do not have a need for a highly paid right-shot defender. That doesn’t mean they don’t have needs elsewhere. 

Last offseason, Peter Chiarelli made the controversial move of trading Taylor Hall, one of the best left wings on the planet. He did it to get Adam Larsson to help build Edmonton’s blue line up, then he went out and signed Milan Lucic in free agency to replace Hall. 

If the Bruins truly have designs on adding Shattenkirk, perhaps they could have something similar in mind: Trade someone like Carlo for either a left-shot defenseman or a left wing, then replace Carlo with Shattenkirk. 

This would still not be financially palatable, however. When the Oilers traded Hall for Larsson, they swapped a player with a $6 million cap hit for a player with a $4.16 million cap hit and replaced the original player (Hall) with a player in Lucic who carried a $6 million cap hit. So essentially they netted one player for an additional $4.16 million. 

Carlo is on his entry level contract, so unless the Bruins traded him for a player on an entry-level deal, they’d be spending a lot of money in any maneuver that involved replacing him with Shattenkirk. 

TO GO ALL-IN ON POST-CLAUDE LIFE

Claude Julien’s detractors lamented his affinity for responsibility. They loved it when Bruce Cassidy was more open to trading chances. 

Well, you like trading chances? Shattenkirk’s your guy. He’s a good skater, a good offensive player and a sub-par defender. You put Krug, Shattenkirk and McAvoy as three of your four top-four defenseman and you’ll be a long way from the days of Chara, Seidenberg and Boychuk, for better or worse. 

BUT, KEEP IN MIND . . . 

They for sure should not sign Kevin Shattenkirk. 

Morning Skate: What does trading a first-rounder get you now?

Morning Skate: What does trading a first-rounder get you now?

Here are all the links from around the hockey world and what I’m reading, while wishing that Gordon Hayward and Paul George were already in Boston, like, yesterday.

*FOH (Friend of Haggs) Elliotte Freidman gives his 30 thoughts for the week, including the trade value of a first-round pick right now.

*It could that non-unrestricted free agents steal all of the thunder on July 1 with massive contract extensions a la Connor McDavid.

*PHT writer James O’Brien has the Detroit Red Wings taking potential fliers on a number of veteran D-men that are out on the free market.

*With free agency right around the corner, the legendary Stan Fischler details the sad end to Bobby Orr’s career in Boston, where he was lied to about the offer extended to him and ended up playing things out with the Chicago Blackhawks in a way that it shouldn’t have gone. The sight of Orr in a Blackhawks sweater is one of the real all-time NHL oddities out there.

*The NCAA is eying college hockey expansion in NHL markets, including the University of Illinois and Pitt, and, from what I’ve been told, perhaps UNLV and maybe even Vanderbilt. This is a great thing for amateur hockey players and anybody that can’t get enough of the game.  

*Ex-Senators defenseman Marc Methot holds no ill will toward the Sens after being dealt from Vegas to the Dallas Stars following his selection in the expansion draft.

*Josh Ho-Sang shares his wisdom to Islanders prospects as a 21-year-old somebody that’s gone through the ups and downs of being in their shoes.

*As we referenced above, Connor McDavid is closing in on a massive contract extension with the Edmonton Oilers that will probably make him the highest paid player in the NHL.

*For something completely different: My heart goes out to this Roslindale family fighting through a situation with a child who has a life-threatening disorder. They have a Go-Fund-Me page, so please give if you can.