Five years into his stay on Causeway Street, and now with at least three or four more years to go, Bruins coach Claude Julien Tuesday stressed the need for perpetual on-the-job learning.
“You evolve every year as a coach,’’ said Julien, 52, speaking inside the TD Garden press room, where the club made formal his long-term contract extension during a noon media conference. “Most of the guys who know it all are retired.’’
Julien, who had one year remaining on a three-year pact, likely signed on for an additional three or four years, though general manager Peter Chiarelli refused to divulge the pact’s length or total worth. Given that Julien led the club to a Stanley Cup in 2011, a four-year extension would be a boost over his previous pair of three-year deals, and his pay, as a veteran NHL coach, is most likely in the range of $1 million to $1.4 million per season — the equivalent of a fourth-line forward or a third-pairing defenseman in today’s NHL.
What remains to be seen is whether Julien, brought in on a near-emergency basis in 2007 to replace one-and-done Dave Lewis as bench boss, will return to work with the same coaching staff. Doug Houda, Geoff Ward, Doug Jarvis, and Bob Essensa all have been shoulder to shoulder with Julien for most of his five years, but Chiarelli said he and Julien will discuss the rest of the staff’s future in the next few days.
“We are going to sit down, Claude and myself, and evaluate,” said Chiarelli. “I’m happy, I’m satisfied with the job that they’ve done. But we are going to sit and evaluate and go through our coaches and I would anticipate getting them re-signed at some point this summer.’’
For whatever it means, if anything, that was something less than the ringing endorsement Julien received from his boss over the course of the half-hour news conference. If there is an issue, or possibly a job change to make, it likely would be based on the club’s ever-struggling power play. Ward is not the only voice heard on the man-advantage, but it is his charge, and with the Bruins ousted from the playoffs some three months ago it’s a safe bet that Julien and Chiarelli already have discussed the makeup of the rest of the coaching roster. Julien expects to leave town today for a couple of weeks vacation not far from where he grew up in Ontario.
With those five years under his belt in Boston, and the franchise’s first Stanley Cup since 1972 put in the bank 13 months ago, Julien already has about doubled the average stay of an NHL coach. Impressive, especially in this town, where for years Harry Sinden often made coaching changes in lockstep with line changes.
However, Julien still has a long way to go to match the ongoing stays of Lindy Ruff in Buffalo (14 seasons) and Barry Trotz in Nashville (13). In a business short on longevity and quick to slurp the coaching flavor of the month, Ruff and Trotz have attained near “Coach For Life’’ status.
“No doubt, right now they’ve got to be my idols,’’ said a smiling Julien, who prior to hitching on with Boston was dismissed less than a full season into his coaching gig in New Jersey. “I’d love to be able to do the same thing that they did, and I say that sincerely. I love it here and my goal is to continue to coach here and I am going to do the best I can to make that happen.’’
Julien last season collected his 228th victory with the Bruins, ranking him fourth all-time in Boston, and he soon will surpass both Don Cherry (231) and Milt Schmidt (245) in that category. He also owns a 36-27 (.571) postseason record in Boston, ranking him No. 1 overall here in playoff victories.
“I love the organization, I love the city,’’ said Julien. “I couldn’t ask for a better situation for myself personally. Having said that, I think one thing I said when I first came here was my goal was to try to win the Stanley Cup here in Boston. We’ve accomplished that. Now my goal is to win another Cup for this Boston franchise.
“I remain hungry. I think I remain committed, dedicated to understanding that the expectations here in Boston are always very high, and I love that kind of standard, because again that’s what makes you a better coach, that’s what makes you a better team — and I am intent on making that happen as we move forward.’’