By Matt Dillane
Seemingly, out of nowhere, Boston Bruins head coach Claude Julien now has the most wins in franchise history.
With Monday night’s overtime victory over the Florida Panthers, Julien rose to the top of the Bruins all-time wins list with number 388.
Amid the consistent calls from fans for his firing along with former GM Peter Chiarelli, Julien remained in Boston and passed Art Ross for most franchise wins behind the bench.
Julien holds a record of 389-215-85 in his nine years in Boston, leading the team to a Stanley Cup title in 2011 and another Cup Final appearance in 2013.
Julien oversaw the team through its rejuvenation period in Boston. Taking over the head coaching job from Dave Lewis in 2007, Claude Julien led the Bruins to a winning record after the team finished in 5th place in the now defunct Northeast division the prior two seasons.
In 2009, Julien was awarded the Jack Adams Award as coach of the year, the same year he won the Bruins first winter classic at Fenway park in front of a large national audience.
Two years later, Julien would deliver a Stanley Cup to Boston for the first time in 39 years. Despite lacking on offense in comparison to some teams, the Bruins seemingly impenetrable defense along with an outstanding performance by Vezina-winning netminder Tim Thomas helped the team win close playoff games. Julien’s defense-first system allowed the team to succeed over more offensively gifted teams.
Julien’s tenure as Boston Bruins head coach has been a largely successful one. Despite the constant clamor from some fans for him to be replaced, Julien has been the most consistent coach in recent memory for the Bruins. He has the most games coached in the franchise’s history with 688. Julien has also served the most consecutive seasons behind the bench with the 2015-2016 season becoming number nine (Art Ross served as head coach from 1929—1934, 1936-1939, and 1941-1945). Currently, Julien is the longest tenured head coach in the NHL.
Julien has also found success at the international level, winning a Gold medal as an assistant coach of Team Canada in the 2014 Olympic Games in Sochi. Recently, Julien was recently named an assistant coach for Canada in the World Cup of Hockey 2016 in Toronto. He won a Bronze medal as head coach of Team Canada at the 2000 World Junior Championship and a Silver medal as an assistant coach for the team in the 2006 World Junior Championships. He also served as an assistant coach for Team Canada in the 2006 World Championships.
Like any team, the Bruins have their faults. However, the head coach is not one of them. Those wishing Julien was replaced should ask themselves one simple question: With who? Julien has been the Bruins’ most reliable coach in years. Unless Joel Quenneville or Mike Babcock suddenly become available, there isn’t anyone better on the market. Julien calls out his team when it isn’t playing up to expectations. After last season’s disappointing end without a playoff appearance from the Bruins, Julien was asked to change his team’s grinder-heavy style of play. He has. As of Wednesday morning, the Bruins have 208 goals for, the third-highest total in the NHL.
As the Bruins continue their extremely difficult stretch to end the season, the team sits 10 points clear of the Flyers who are currently out of a playoff spot. While this year’s Bruins team may not be built for a Stanley Cup run, there isn’t a coach available who should be behind the bench over Julien. Hockey has undergone a rejuvenation in Boston over the last decade or so. A large part of that has to do with the coach. It’s time Julien gets the same respect from the fans as his players and those around the league give him. Always consistent, Julien is a big piece of the Bruins going forward.
And hey, even if you aren’t a Julien fan, at least he’s always been scandal-free (Ahem, John Farrell).