BOSTON — Claude Julien had options.
Had the 55-year-old coach not been tabbed to return for a 10th season behind the Bruins’ bench, he likely would have been ferociously pursued by Boston’s division foes up in Ottawa, who earlier this week gave head coach Dave Cameron the boot after missing the Stanley Cup playoffs, and certainly other clubs, as well.
The Bruins also will be postseason observers for a second consecutive spring, and Julien admitted that after Cameron’s Senators drove the final nail into Boston’s coffin with a 6-1 victory Saturday at TD Garden, he did ponder whether he’d be better served by taking his coaching talents elsewhere next season.
That period of inner reflection, however, was brief. Julien said he informed Bruins general manager Don Sweeney on Sunday of his desire to stay, and Sweeney shared those sentiments, announcing Thursday morning that Julien indeed would return for the 2016-17 campaign.
“I want to be here,” Julien said in a joint news conference with Sweeney shortly after the GM’s announcement. “I want to bring this team back to where we once had it. And I know that there’s some bumps along the way — there’s no doubt.
“I’m going to be honest with you: Would it have been easier for me to go somewhere else and say, ‘Oh geez, I’m going to go somewhere fresh and start (over)?’ That’s what I want. To me, this organization has been good to me. They’ve been loyal to me. Like I said before, I love this city, I love our fans, and I love just the environment here. You want to be somewhere where people are really passionate about the game, and there’s a lot of people here, including players, that have helped me become the coach that I am.
“And I don’t want to be that guy that bails just because all of the sudden, you hit a bump in the road. I want to be that guy that perseveres. And things that went through my mind is, it’s OK to be remembered right now to be the winningest coach in Bruins history, but I’d rather be remembered for (being) a guy who had enough character to go back into the trenches and dig his heels in and help turn this organization around versus the other way that could have been. So I was pretty clear with Donny on that front, and (then) it was up to Don to tell me what his thoughts were.
“Obviously, we had very similar thoughts, and it was great to hear that I had his support and that he still believed that I was the guy, and that’s why I’m still here today.”
Julien’s Bruins tenure includes a Stanley Cup title in 2011 and another Cup Final appearance in 2013. His team finished this season 42-31-9 and missed out on a playoff spot by one point.
Thumbnail photo via Matt Kartozian/USA TODAY Sports Images
Thumbnail photo via Boston Bruins head coach Claude Julien
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