Haggerty: Habs already terming Julien 'a superstar', which may be a bit much

Haggerty: Habs already terming Julien 'a superstar', which may be a bit much

The second Claude Julien era officially gets underway in Montreal with both GM Marc Bergevin and Julien himself addressing the media on Wednesday about his hiring just a week after he was fired by the Bruins.

Bergevin termed the 54-year-old Julien “a superstar” in the coaching ranks who the Habs were obviously tickled to be able to put behind the bench and replace outgoing coach Michel Therrien after he was kicked to the curb on Tuesday.

“Claude brings credibility, experience, and is a proven Stanley Cup winner,” said Bergevin, who perhaps strained credibility a bit when he stated he didn’t make his decision based on the timing of the Black and Gold relieving Julien of his duties last week. “It wasn't an easy decision, but I've always said I would do what's best for the club.”

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There’s little doubt that Julien is a very good hockey coach. That’s backed up by the 419 regular season wins for the Bruins the past 10 years along with the 2011 Stanley Cup title and seven consecutive playoff appearances. He brought defensive structure to a floundering organization and paid attention to detail and discipline while demanding a great deal from his players in terms of two-way play and defensive responsibility.

He's the best Bruins coach of my lifetime and arguably the best coach that the franchise ever enjoyed in their long and illustrious history. 

But do “superstar” coaches miss the Stanley Cup playoffs three years in a row as Julien had the Bruins poised to do as they limped through January and February prior to the coaching change? Surely, the roster wasn’t as talented now as it was in the two trips to the Cup Finals in 2011 and 2013, but it was stunning to watch the Bruins go from President’s Trophy winners to DNQs for the playoffs the next two seasons.

Those two B’s campaigns were characterized by a lessened roster due to a mostly barren prospect cupboard, cap problems and some very questionable, if not downright nonsensical, moves by the front office. But they were also shrouded in underachieving teams that collapsed down the stretch each of the past two seasons, and a recurring failure to play consistently or be ready to play an alarming number of times in each of those seasons.

There is plenty of blame to go around on what befell the B’s over the past three years. Management, coaches and players all play a part in the degradation of the franchise from legit contenders to mostly pretenders. However, they were still talented enough to make the playoffs each of the past three seasons with a number of gifted holdovers from the Bruins teams that made it to the Cup Finals. Julien couldn’t help guide, coax and cajole the remaining talent to get there. Meanwhile, the first three games under Bruce Cassidy have been eye-opening to the possibilities of what an aggressive, up-tempo and offensively assertive system could do to unlock the talent within the Black and Gold.

So, while Julien is a good hockey coach and a classy human being off the ice who deserves to have everything he may get in Montreal as he takes over a first-place team late in the season, let’s not turn him into the second coming of Scotty Bowman after the fact either.

Julien was never able to maximize the elite talent within players such as Phil Kessel, Tyler Seguin and Dougie Hamilton as high-end lottery draft picks. That all played a part in their early playoff exits for the Original Six franchise. Some even said that Julien's conservative coaching ways were part of the reason Jimmy Vesey veered away from the Bruins when he was mulling over his NHL options this summer. 

The bottom line is that “superstar” coaches maximize the talent on their roster in all instances and get the most out of their best players. That wasn’t happening anymore in Boston with a young, skilled group that didn’t really jive with the conservative, controlled system that Julien prefers when the going gets tough. 
 

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.