On Tuesday, the day of the Patriots’ Super Bowl parade, the Bruins decided to fire the head coach of 9+ seasons, Claude Julien.
Claude Julien Fired
After days, weeks, and even years of speculation, the Boston Bruins finally canned long time head coach Claude Julien. Highly respected by many people in and around the NHL, Claude Julien led the Bruins to an Eastern Conference title in 2013 and a Stanley Cup Championship in 2011. The team made the playoffs every season in Julien’s first seven years as coach, but the past two seasons have been the issue. The B’s have missed the post season two straight years, and Claude Julien started this season on the hottest seat in the NHL. Though his firing wasn’t surprising, the timing was very suspect.
On Tuesday morning, as half the streets in Boston were closed and filled with people awaiting the Patriots to roll by in duck boats, the Bruins announced the firing of their head coach of 9+ seasons. Needless to say, the Masshole fans and media were not pleased by this.
There's a Boston reporter who's super pissed he's missing Pats parade on his fourth question about the timing of Julien firing. I'm dying.
— Greg Wyshynski (@wyshynski) February 7, 2017
Obviously, this was done to deflect as much attention away from the news as possible. It was a pretty low move by the Bruins’ brass to use the Pats’ success to try and sweep their dirty laundry under the rug. I’ve seen some argue that there was no better time for them to do it. That if they fired him Saturday, they’d take away from the excitement of the Super Bowl for Bostonians. That’s a load of manure too. They’ve known they were going to do this for a while. They certainly could’ve fired him before the All-Star break or they could have waited one more week.
Personally, I think it’s hard to make a good case for firing Julien. He gets the most out of his players and his roster just hasn’t been anything more than average in recent years. In an earlier Free Skate, we looked at how crazy it was that the Bruins were struggling so much. They dominate possession AND shot generation metrics, so it’s hard to blame the coach. It’s not Julien’s fault they don’t have an adequate back up to Tuuka Rask. It’s not Julien’s fault that the back end of their defense is questionable at best.
I've yet to hear a single, salient reason for this firing to happen from Sweeney.
But I've heard a lot about personnel issues. #Bruins
— Greg Wyshynski (@wyshynski) February 7, 2017
That’s why the firing makes no sense. If you blame personnel, then it shouldn’t be the coach getting told to kick rocks. It should be GM Don Sweeney. So why fire Julien? Well, because he and President Cam Neely didn’t see eye to eye. From what some reports say, Neely wanted to play the younger players to get them some experience. Claude Julien wanted to play his veterans and his tough defensive style. Those two philosophies didn’t mesh, and hadn’t meshed for years, so Julien got shown the door.
As far as where he’ll land next, there are many teams that would love to snatch up Claude Julien. The new Vegas team needs a coach still, but I’d doubt Julien wants to take on that project. The Islanders job looked available, but they’ve been playing very well under interim coach Doug Weight recently. The Panthers job could very well be open with Tom Rowe being the interim coach and other jobs like Dallas, Philadelphia, and Buffalo could be available too. Ultimately, Julien can be picky because he’s going to be cashing 2.5 million dollar checks the next two years.
Dealing For Duchene?
According to Twitter, all other 29 teams in the NHL are looking to trade with the Colorado Avalanche in order to get Matt Duchene. Duchene was the #3 overall pick in the 2009 Draft and has 409 points in 540 career NHL games. As with all other fan bases this time of year, the Smashville faithful are restless with dreams of Matt Duchene sporting gold and a cowboy hat for the Preds, so I’ll take this time to discuss that possibility and drop a few other places Duchene could land.
First, every Smashvillian NEEDS to take a dose of reason followed by a shot of logic by watching this video from Justin Bradford, who covers the Preds for Penalty Box Radio.
I agree with Justin on every point he makes in that video. You absolutely cannot give up a roster defenseman if you’re the Preds. That price is far too high. As he notes, the defense has been a MASH unit all year until recently. Not only that, but this was the plan. An unreal top four defensive corps for Nashville, and they have exactly that. P.K. Subban, Roman Josi, Ryan Ellis, and Mattias Ekholm are all locked down in the near future. That is a franchise’s dream right there. Not only that, but Ellis was recently names to the team’s leadership group. If you think he’s leaving after that, you have probably been smoking a substance that’s legal in Colorado.
Now, as far as more realistic deals for Duchene Nashville could make, there are a couple options. Highly touted defensive prospects Samuel Girard and Dante Fabbro could be some trade bait that the Avs are interested in. Milwaukee Admirals center and the Preds’ number one prospect Vladislav Kamenev could be moved too. The thinking is that Kamenev will be a second line center in the near future, but if Nashville has Johansen and Duchene up the middle there’s not as much room for him there. If Nashville wanted to package a first round draft pick along with two of those three aforementioned prospects in exchange for Matt Duchene, I would be okay with that.
Now, I’m not going to act so cool and calm about this. I’m a huge Preds fan and I would be happier than a pig in a mud pit if David Poile could get Matt Duchene without giving up a roster player. I would be conducting the Nashville Predators Stanley Cup hype train. That thing would be going full steam. It’s just that I don’t think a trade like that is likely and the smart move may be to hang on to your young defensive talent for the time being since the cupboard in Milwaukee is more bare than it has been in recent years.
In terms of places I think Duchene could land, I’d say Ottawa is probably up there. They are an above average team in a below average division and Matt Duchene could take them to another level with him at center. Carolina is another team that’s been mentioned several times. They definitely have the cap room and abundance of young defensive talent to make the deal. The down side to Carolina is that they are in last in their division, are rebuilding, and the owner is looking to sell the team. Duchene may beg GM Joe Sakic not to send him there. I actually think the price will be far too high for all teams by the time the trade deadline arrives and the Avalanche will move Duchene in the offseason.
PS- The Preds have the cap space to make it work. It would be tight between Duchene and a new deal for Johansen, but they could do it.
3 Stars of the Week
3rd Star- Larry Fitzgerald Practicing with the Yotes
— Arizona Coyotes (@ArizonaCoyotes) February 7, 2017
By stepping on the ice, Larry Fitzgerald became the 3rd best player on Arizona’s roster.
2nd Star- Sebastian Aho Hat Trick
all 3 Aho goals in 1 gif pic.twitter.com/HVUwGcWfRa
— nope (@myregularface) February 1, 2017
Here’s some young talent in Carolina. As long as they don’t royally screw it up (they will), they may have a very bright future in Seattle.
1st Star- Oshie Poppin’ Bottles
Start with slap shots and then pop bottles. pic.twitter.com/7PYdpxkNc9
— NHL (@NHL) February 6, 2017
With the new placement of the water bottles, these are rare today in the NHL. If you don’t love a good popped Gatorade bottle in hockey, you don’t have a pulse and can GTFO.
That’ll do it for this week! See you next week when Matt Duchene is a Predator and Roman Josi is an Avalanche(?)! Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter as trade season hits its peak!