Julien: I'll be a fan of Francona's wherever he goes

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Julien: I'll be a fan of Francona's wherever he goes

By Joe Haggerty
CSNNE.com Bruins Insider Follow @hackswithhaggs
WILMINGTON Claude Julien is a member of the Boston sports coaching fraternity, and he truly earned his place after leading his hockey club to a Stanley Cup championship last June.

Julien talked about the support he received from the other coaches in Boston, and Sox manager Terry Francona on more than one occasion asked me to pass along the message to Julien that he liked his coaching style and appreciated the way he went about his business.

It was pretty clear the words of encouragement and praise meant something to the Bs coach, and he said Saturday morning that he planned to reach out to the Sox skipper after Francona was removed from his managing duties at Fenway on Friday. Julien caught some of the press conferences and heard the same things that everyone has around Boston when it comes to differences with ownership -- and perhaps some of his players.

Julien said he empathized with Francona, and it hit close to home for the Bs coach because the two men had very similar styles when it comes to running their individual teams.

The one thing I know is that the job that Francona has done here is tremendous, said Julien. Two World Series and the way hes conducted himself through everything, Im going to be a fan of his no matter where he ends up. I know hes going to end up somewhere. I like the way hes handled his group.

In certain ways Im a lot like him as far as trusting your players and showing them the respect that they deserve. You give them as much leash as they can take. Youve got to give them that opportunity to lead the way. Im not big on throwing players under the bus and he never has.

Juliens job came under fire last season when the Bruins were battling consistency in the middle of the year coming off the playoff collapse against the Philadelphia Flyers, and there was probably a time when he might have thought hed be long gone from Boston prior to Francona. After all, Julien and his staff were likely one Game 7 loss to the Montreal Canadiens in the first round away from their pink slips, and it sounded as the Bs coach would have handled things the very same way as Francona had that day come.

"It was interesting last night to really listen to him because there were a lot of things that I could see myself saying, Julien said. Hes a gentlemen thats well respected hes going to take the high road. That was pretty obvious. I have nothing but tremendous respect for him for what hes accomplished and how hes deal with tough times.

Though the NHL is renowned for high turnover in their coaching ranks, it doesnt look like the Bs coach, thats won both a Jack Adams Award and a Stanley Cup during his highly successful four-year run in Boston, has anything to worry about anytime soon.

Joe Haggerty can be reached at jhaggerty@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Joe on Twitter at http:twitter.comHackswithHaggs

Red Sox-Indians ALDS matchup becoming increasingly likely

Red Sox-Indians ALDS matchup becoming increasingly likely

BOSTON - The Red Sox knew they'd be in the playoffs last weekend when they clinched a postseason berth for the first time since 2013.

On Wednesday, they became division champs and knew they'd avoided the dreaded wild-card game.

ANALYSIS: Nick Friar looks at potential Red Sox-Indians matchup

They still don't know their first-round opponent, though it's becoming increasingly likely that it will be the Cleveland Indians.

Here's why: the Red Sox' loss to the Yankees on Thursday night leaves them with a 92-67 record with three games remaining, the second-best mark -- for now -- among the three A.L. division winners.

The Texas Rangers, at 94-65, retain the best record, with the Indians, at 91-67, a half-game behind the Sox.

The team with the best record of the three will enter the playoffs as the No. 1 seed, and will be matched against the winner of Tuesday's A.L. wild-card matchup.

To finish with the A.L.'s best record and host the wild-card winner, the Red Sox essentially need to sweep the Toronto Blue Jays on the final weekend and hope that the Rangers get swept by Tampa Bay.

That's because a tie between the Red Sox and Rangers in the standings would make the Rangers the top seed by virtue of the second tie-breaker: intra-division play.

(The first tie-breaker is head-to-head play; the Sox and Rangers split the season series, sending them to the second tie-breaker).

In other words, the Rangers have a magic number of one to clinch the best record in the A.L. and gain home-field advantage throughout the postseason. One more Red Sox loss or one more Rangers win would get the Rangers locked into the top spot.

Again, barring a sweep by the Sox and the Rangers getting swept, a matchup in the Division Series with Cleveland seems almost inevitable.

What's not known is where that series will begin, and here's where it gets tricky.

Because the Indians and Detroit Tigers were rained out Thursday, the Tribe will have played only 161 games by the time the regular season ends early Sunday evening.

That could force the Indians and Tigers to play a makeup game on Monday, since the game could have playoff seeding implications for the Indians and Tigers. Detroit is still in the running for the A.L. wild card spot, currently a game-and-a-half behind the Orioles and Jays.

Since the Red Sox won the season series against the Indians 4-2, the Sox can clinch home field by winning two-of-three games from Toronto this weekend.

Should the Sox win two from the Jays, it would wipe out the need for Monday's makeup -- at least as far as the Indians are concerned. It's possible that it would still need to be played to determine the one of the wild card spots.

No matter who wins home field in a likely Red Sox-Indians matchup, the Division Series between the two will start with games next Thursday and Friday. After a travel day, the series would resume Sunday and Monday, Oct. 9-10.

Should the Sox win home field and host the first two games, Game 3 would be played Sunday Oct. 9 in Cleveland -- on the same day and in the same city where Tom Brady will make his return to the Patriots.