BOSTON — Last week, Bruins general manager Don Sweeney announced that Claude Julien would be returning for a 10th season as Boston’s head coach.
Team president Cam Neely followed that up Wednesday with his own ringing endorsement of the B’s bench boss.
“I thought he did a great job coaching this year,” Neely said in his season-ending news conference at TD Garden. “It was a big transition year for him — different player personnel than he was accustomed to. We tried to integrate a lot of the younger players, and I think he did a good job with the roster.
“There’s areas where we can all still evolve, and I think Claude’s looking at that. I think he did a great job with some of the circumstances that he had throughout the year, so when Don said he wanted to keep Claude, I had no problem with that at all.”
Julien’s job security came into question earlier this month when the Bruins missed the playoffs for a second consecutive season. The way in which they did so also raised concern, as Boston lost nine of its final 12 games to fall one point shy of a postseason berth.
Although Neely, Bruins owner Jeremy Jacobs and Bruins CEO Charlie Jacobs spent much of the presser discussing the organization’s desire to regain the contender status it held just a few years ago, Neely said it had been agreed that the GM would be able to pick his head coach. And if Julien was Sweeney’s guy, he was all for it.
“Ultimately, that’s Don’s decision,” Neely said. “If he comes to me and says, ‘Listen, I think we need to make a change here,’ I’ve got to go on his recommendation, because he’s the one that deals with the coach on a daily basis.”
Neely also does not believe Julien has “lost the room.”
“That’s one of the first questions you ask, especially if someone’s been around as long as Claude and some of the players have been around as long as Claude,” Neely said. “That has not happened, and if it did, then we’d have different discussions.”
Julien guided the Bruins to playoff appearances in each of his first seven seasons with the team, winning a Stanley Cup title in 2011 and reaching another Cup Final in 2013. He is the longest-tenured coach in the NHL.
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