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On Friday morning, the Boston Bruins announced that they gave head coach Claude Julien, the current holder of the Jack Adams Award, a contract extension. Per club policy, details of the deal were not announced.
Julien, the 28th coach of the organization, was hired in 2007 after GM Peter Chiarelli’s first head coaching hire, Dave Lewis, was fired. In his first season with the team, the Lexington, Massachusetts resident led the team to a 41-29-12 record, good enough for eighth place in the Eastern Conference. The Bruins lost to the Montréal Canadiens in seven games in the opening round.
This past season Julien continued to excel at the Garden, posting a 53-19-10 record, earning first place in the conference and only a point out of the President’s Trophy. The B’s were eventually upset by the Carolina Hurricanes in the second round of the playoffs, but it was the first time since 1999 that the team had reached the Eastern Conference semi-finals.
“Claude has shown a tremendous propensity to get the maximum results out of our team,” general manager Peter Chiarelli said. “To me, he’s a guy who can connect. He’s a roll-up-your-sleeves type of guy that connects with the players. He commands the respect that a coach needs to get to be successful while maintaining a common-sense, humble approach.”
Prior to joining Boston, the 49-year-old Ontario native coached the Hull Olympiques of the QMJHL and the Hamilton Bulldogs of the AHL, a Montréal affiliate. In 2002, Julien was called up to coach the Canadiens. His team upset the first place Bruins in the opening round of the 2004 playoffs, but was fired halfway through the 2005-2006 season. The following season, he served on the bench of the New Jersey Devils, but was fired with only three games left in the season, despite being in first place in the Atlantic Division. Chiarelli immediately hired Julien once Lewis had been relieved and the coach has flourished ever since, posting a 94-48-22 record.
Julien certainly deserves the extension as he has taken the team from the worst of playoff-qualifying teams to first. However, it is of greater significance to the Bruins, as they will have greater stability on the bench. Julien is the sixth person to coach the team this century, three of whom only coached one season. The extension will allow Julien, who is well liked by both players and team executives, to continue to implement his system and coaching style, which should help the Bruins remain a Stanley Cup favorite.