UPDATE: The Bruins announced, like right after this was posted, that Peter Chiarelli has been relieved of his duties. Claude Julien will remain in place …. for now.
It’s been a few days since the Bruins season ended with a whimper in Tampa Bay with another shootout loss (shocker). And in those few days everyone has weighed in on whether or not GM Peter Chiarelli and/or Claude Julien should return next year to fix what is obviously broken.
It’s pretty rare that you get near universal opinion on a topic in Boston sports, but the overriding thoughts amongst Bruins media is that both Chiarelli and Julien should return. Let’s have a look around to see what some of the Bruins media is saying, along with some
snarky comments analysis in response.
“Chiarelli should remain in power to make these decisions. Judging general managers on one-year samples rather than five-year samples can lead to rash decisions; the team continues to benefit from Chiarelli’s moves to extend both Patrice Bergeron and Zdeno Chara before the 2010-11 season rather than having to overpay them after they won the Cup or letting either player go to free agency.
Similarly, there will not be a coach available better than Claude Julien. All it takes is an overzealous Charlie Jacobs … for both Chiarelli and Julien to get canned, but that would be a mistake. The GM and coach deserve another chance, but they must fix things. Not having the dead money that was against this year’s cap will help, as will having a healthier squad. Those two things won’t be enough; the Bruins must find their way back to their scoring dominance and stifling defense. They were failed in those two areas more than anything else.”
Is it really a one-year sample with Chiarelli? That’s been the ongoing narrative, but this has been building over the past couple of seasons. Signings like Chris Kelly ($3M) add up over the long haul and lead to moves that had to be made this year. And the only coach possibly better than Julien would be Mike Babcock, but is he that much better? Both he and Julien have the same number of Cups and Finals appearances.
“Like virtually all of his players, he had an off year. And like most of those players who had off years, he should be back next season. If the Bruins had gone from a championship-caliber team to a bottom-feeder in the space of one season, that’d be one thing. But they earned 96 points – more than in two other playoff seasons under Julien – and were in the hunt for a berth until the last night of the season. If someone decides to let him go, though, they’d better have an awfully good coach lined up. Julien’s act would be a tough one to follow.”
Listen, we all get frustrated with Claude. And sometimes rightfully so. Giving Greg Campbell 15 minutes in a huge game, then sitting him in the next game is a head-scratcher for sure. But look at it this way, in his mind he was coaching for his job, and doing what he thought was best. But the argument could also be made that he didn’t put his team in the best position to win every night. From burying Ryan Spooner to giving the Campbell’s/Kelly’s/Paille’s of the world more ice time than they deserved, Julien will have to adjust his philosophies. Young players are going to make mistakes, sure. But would they have been any more than the aforementioned trifecta of suck that was 11/20/23?
“The Bruins fell short because they failed in all areas, including the corner office and behind the bench. Chiarelli traded defenseman Johnny Boychuk the weekend before the regular-season opener, which sucked the air out of the dressing room. He couldn’t find a replacement for forward Jarome Iginla until the trade deadline. Chiarelli didn’t stock enough defensive depth. Rask played too many games because of Niklas Svedberg’s untrustworthy play.
Julien had fewer options than before. Chara and Krejci, two of Julien’s most important players, suffered major injuries. Julien couldn’t squeeze results out of his limited resources. By the end, amid perpetual line juggling, Julien lost faith in more than half of his forwards.
Chiarelli has executed makeovers before. Julien has coached those retooled rosters deep into the playoffs. They may not be asked back to complete their unfinished business. This is a vulnerable time for the Bruins. Rash decisions take place under duress. This is no time to blow things up.”
Fluto is the best, in my opinion, but his defense of Chiarelli isn’t strong after listing all the failures from just this year. I mean, just read that first paragraph. The most damning thing about Julien is that he lost faith in his forwards. Well, except for the ones that he should have lost faith in. Again, why Patrice Bergeron got less TOI than Krejci, Soderberg, Marchand, Lucic, Eriksson, and Smith in that order? Why not ride your horses as much as you can? Why not shorten the bench late in games? Why is Brad Marchand not on the power play? These are all questions that Julien is likely being asked by upper management.
One other thing that bugs me from a coaching standpoint is the shootout. The Bruins went 4-10 this year. Let’s say they went 7-7, then they’re in the playoffs. It was obvious Julien didn’t like it and didn’t put much emphasis on it, and the results showed. Imagine if Bill Belichick didn’t work on 2 point conversions?
And of course Chiarelli should have done more, both in the off-season and during the season. Again, Jeff Petry went for a second rounder. That wasn’t worth it? Inactivity was not really an option. Get something for Soderberg, for example. You don’t think a playoff team would love him on their third line? And the Reilly Smith signing still keeps me awake at night.
Look, this team had 96 points. In every year but this one that is enough to get you in the playoffs. So all is not lost here. But the Bruins have a ton of work to do in the off-season. Things have to change, from roster building to the on ice philosophy. Loyalty has come at a price, and the Bruins have got to learn from the Patriots, in that there are only a few sacred cows, and that everyone else is expendable.
Sure, a rash decision could be bring more harm than good to the franchise. Pittsburgh is a prime example, but that team was in a pretty good spot before injuries left them with only five defensemen. So if Cam Neely and Charlie Jacobs bring Chiarelli and Julien back, it’s with the caveat that not everyone deserves a new contract with a NMC (cough*Milan Lucic*cough), and that young players with offensive upside is actually a good thing.
And if you ask me, I’ll essentially throw my hands in the air and weakly say that they get one more shot. Very weakly. And if you are going to let someone go, Chiarelli gets my vote as he has done more wrong than the coach, and there is little confidence that he is the person to turn it around.