BOSTON — The Bruins are in the midst of failing to live up to expectations for now the third season in a row. Slight changes had been made, but the biggest shocker came Tuesday morning when Boston fired head coach Claude Julien.
It wasn’t totally out of left field given the Bruins’ uneven play all season, but the decision still sent shock waves through the Bruins’ dressing room. Julien was in his 10th season as Bruins head coach, meaning just about every homegrown player on the Bruins roster has known only Julien as head coach for his entire career.
Bruins center David Krejci said it was “shocking” when he and his teammates learned via text messages from general manager Don Sweeney that the Bruins had parted ways with Julien. As the Bruins started arriving at Warrior Ice Arena for Tuesday’s practice, they were forced to deal with a harsh reality: They didn’t play well enough, and it ultimately cost Julien his job.
“It’s one of those things where, at the end of the day, it falls back on the players,” Bruins center Patrice Bergeron, one of Julien’s most outspoken defenders, said after Tuesday’s practice. “We’re the ones not executing on the ice, so hopefully we have to realize this is not going to fix everything. We have to go out there and do the job and be better as a whole.”
Sweeney and Bruins interim head coach Bruce Cassidy addressed the team before practice, laying out the expectations for the team moving forward. There undoubtedly will be changes in the Bruins’ style of play and lineup, and while this is a move that’s in some ways made with an eye on the future, the Bruins still fully expect to make the playoffs. That’s the goal, at least.
“When you start talking a little bit more about us moving forward, about the game plan and all of these things, line changes, everything happens so fast,” Krejci said. “So you kind of have to move on and try to be the best player (you can). Everyone has to step up here individually and be better for the team. If we don’t do it, it’s not on Claude or the new coaches. They give us the game plan and it’s on us to go out there and do our job.”
Sweeney and Bruins management are sending an obvious message with this move, and the early indications are the Bruins players are listening.
“It reminds you that there’s nothing guaranteed in hockey,” forward David Pastrnak said. “You can lose a job as a player, you can lose a job as a coach and it can happen to anybody. We need to get better, and it’s too bad Claude was the one to (get fired) and it’s on us. We need to figure it out and get every practice.”
If they don’t figure it out, expect more changes sooner than later.
Thumbnail photo via Ron Chenoy/USA TODAY Sports Images