June 9, 2011
Bruins rewarded for faith in Julien
By MIKE ZEISBERGER, QMI Agency
BOSTON -- It would have been easy for Peter Chiarelli to listen to the critics and fire Claude Julien.
Indeed, according to a well-placed source, Boston general manager Chiarelli was being pressured from above as far back as November to cut the cord with Julien, 51, in his fourth season as Bruins coach.
Chiarelli said no. He stayed the course. He believed in Julien, even when many didn't.
Months later, it is a completely different story with the Bruins. Even with elite players Marc Savard and Nathan Horton out of the lineup with concussions, the Bruins have rallied around their coach and their sidelined teammates to fight back and tie the Stanley Cup final at 2-2 heading to Vancouver for Game 5 Friday.
Chiarelli said that Julien, who also has coached the Montreal Canadiens and New Jersey Devils, has done a tremendous job wherever he has worked.
"He has also adapted. He has changed. He has improved," Chiarelli said.
"He's just like a player. And he listens to people. All the while, he maintains his principles. He maintains the foundation of his game. I think you've seen the lineup switches, the in-game switches."
The Bruins GM also said he has no issues with the way Julien has handled Tyler Seguin, the second overall pick from the 2010 draft, moving the 19-year-old in and out of the lineup.
"That's a tough one," Chiarelli said. "Tyler will be such a good player. There's a lot of tough love there. Claude has shown he can handle the young players. He did it in Montreal. He did it in New Jersey."
Chiarelli deserves praise for building this team, including trade-deadline deals that netted Rich Peverly, Chris Kelly and, yes, even Tomas Kaberle. But, in the end, his shrewdest move might have been the one he didn't make -- axing Julien.
LAMENT OVER LOUIE
The immediate public outcry calling for Cory Schneider to start in goal for the Canucks in Game 5 at the Rogers Arena is misplaced. No matter how bad Roberto Luongo might have looked in Boston over the past two games, the Canucks need to ride the horse that brought them this far.
Keep this in mind, too: In September 2009, the Canucks signed Luongo to a 12-year $64-million US contract extension. Having made such a commitment to him, how could they consider benching him just two wins away from a Stanley Cup? Luongo would never trust management or the coaching staff again.
FACING THE MUSIC
Say what you want about the poor showings of Luongo and the Sedin twins in Boston, but all three have been stand-up, accountable guys.
With just two points combined in four games, Henrik and Daniel Sedin have been available daily and have handled even the harshest questions with class.
Luongo faced the press after being pulled Wednesday in the third period of a 4-0 loss to the Bruins.
On the other hand, forward Ryan Kesler has one point in three games, is a minus-3 in the final and has avoided dealing with reporters.
The Canucks should feel lucky they are tied in this series, considering the Sedins and Kesler have three points combined heading into Game 5. There are suspicions that Henrik Sedin has a viral illness and Kesler has an injury. This much is certain: If Kesler is going to play it's time for him to step up.
BY THE NUMBERS
Before Game 3, the Bruins honoured No. 8, Cam Neely, then the team went out and scored eight times in an 8-1 thrashing of Vancouver. Before Game 4, the Bruins paid tribute to No. 4, Bobby Orr, then the team pumped four past Roberto Luongo in a 4-0 triumph. Since the Bruins seem to be racking up the same number of goals as the number they are honouring, who's next? Will they have a ceremony for Ray Bourque, No. 77, before Game 6 Monday? ... It could be the Canucks' problems can be blamed on the power play: It was the best in the league during the season but is just 1-for-21 in this series ... According to the Elias sports bureau, the 12-1 margin by which the Bruins outscored the Canucks in Games 3 and 4 was the largest goal differential of any back-to-back games in Stanley Cup final history.