Julien motivated to bring another Cup to Boston

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Julien motivated to bring another Cup to Boston

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.

Morning Skate: Do Caps have mental block come playoff time?

Morning Skate: Do Caps have mental block come playoff time?

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading, while thinking about and praying for the people of Manchester, England. It’s obviously an evil, cowardly act to bomb any public place, but to do it at a concert filled with women and children is the lowest of the low.

*The Capitals players are acknowledging that there’s some kind of mental block with the Stanley Cup playoffs. CSN Mid-Atlantic has all the details.

*It’s been a very odd postseason for the NHL where there are so many non-traditional teams still alive with the Nashville Predators in the Stanley Cup Fina, and the Ottawa Senators fighting for their lives in the Eastern Conference Final. On that note, there is a ton of disappointment at the empty seats at the Canadian Tire Centre for Ottawa’s home games in the playoffs. It sounds like there are going to be empty seats tonight for a do-or-die Game 6 in Ottawa. That is an embarrassment for a Canadian city that’s supposed to pride itself on their love of hockey. Let’s hope the Senators fans have a last-minute surge to buy tickets and show some appreciation for a Senators team that’s given the Ottawa fans a totally unexpected ride through the postseason this spring. I mean, Erik Karlsson at the top of his game is worth the price of admission all by himself.  

*The Pittsburgh Penguins have the Senators on the ropes, and it’s been an impressive showing given that they’re doing it without Kris Letang.

*Pro Hockey Talk has the ownership for the St. Louis Blues giving their GM Doug Armstrong a vote of confidence.

*Another early exit from the playoffs is going to start making some players expendable on the New York Rangers roster.

*Here’s a good piece on how David Poile built the Nashville Predators, who have reached the Stanley Cup Final for the first time. Give credit where it’s due: He manned up and made a big move dealing away Shea Weber straight up for PK Subban. It’s really worked for Music City as they’ve stepped to the next level.

*Speaking of Nashville’s rise this spring in a wide open Western Conference, Pekka Rinne has silenced the critics he might have had by carrying his team to the Cup Final.

*For something completely different: Boston law enforcement is on high alert after the bombing of the Ariana Grande concert in the UK.

 

Haggerty: Reports of Seidenberg's demise were greatly exaggerated

Haggerty: Reports of Seidenberg's demise were greatly exaggerated

Hindsight is always 20/20, of course, but it appears the Bruins made a mistake buying out veteran defenseman Dennis Seidenberg from the final couple of years of his contract. 

Seidenberg just finished up a wildly successful stint with host Team Germany at the IIHF World Championships, where he was named Directorate Best Defenseman (the tournament’s best defenseman) after leading all D-men with a goal and eight points. This came after Seidenberg, at age 35, posted 5 goals and 22 points in 73 games for the Islanders, with whom he signed after being cut loose by the B's, while averaging a shade under 20 minutes per game.  Seidenberg also had an excellent World Cup of Hockey tournament for Team Europe last summer (where he was teamed once again with Zdeno Chara), thus managing to play at a high level from September all the way through May.

A faction of Bruins fans thought he was on the serious decline after the 2015-16 season and, clearly, the Bruins agreed, opting to buy him out with two more years still left on a sizable contract extension. (They owe him $2.16 million next season and then will be charged $1.16 million on their salary cap over the next two seasons.) But the B's could have used a durable, defensive warrior like Seidenberg in the playoffs, when they lost three of their top four defensemen against the Ottawa Senators. A rejuvenated Seidenberg, able to play both the left and right side, would have been a better option than Colin Miller.

The Bruins made a conscious decision to hand things over to younger defensemen like Miller, Torey Krug, Brandon Carlo and Joe Morrow in cutting ties with Seidenberg. But they also perhaps miscalculated how much Seidenberg still had left in the tank after his best season in at least three years. 

“Well, at the time we felt like [Seidenberg's] game had really dropped off to where we thought he couldn’t contribute, and we wanted to see if some younger players could come in and help us out,” Bruins president Cam Neely said at the end-of-the-season press conference earlier this month. “I’ve got to say he played well this year for Long Island. But at the time we thought it was the right move. You can’t envision us having three of our top four D’s get hurt [in the playoffs]. We went through a lot of D’s in the postseason. You can’t predict that.”

Neely is referring to the decision made after Seidenberg’s second straight minus season in Boston, when back injuries and a major knee injury had seemed to slow him down a bit. It seemed the only way to properly evaluate some of their other, younger defenseman was to cut Seidenberg loose, but one has to wonder if the Bruins would have possibly done it had they known he was still capable of playing like he did this season for the Islanders. 

Either way, the buyout of Seidenberg is an extremely legitimate second guess of Bruins management in a year where they did a lot of things right.