Press conference and . . . Son of press conference. Bruins fans on Thursday finally will begin to learn what the club is planning for 2016-17, including what appears to be the return of coach Claude Julien for a 10th season here in the Hub of Hockey.
Four days after saying nothing publicly in the wake of being eliminated again from playoff contention, the Bruins late Wednesday afternoon delivered a 1-2 punch in the form of announcing a pair of end-of-season news conferences.
General manager Don Sweeney and coach Julien will address the media on Thursday at 10 a.m. at TD Garden, for what portends to be a standard end-of-season wrapup session, detailing what went wrong this year, particularly during the collapse over the last 2-3 weeks of the regular season.
Given that Julien is slated to attend, it would appear the veteran bench boss will be back, despite the fact the Bruins on Saturday again fell short of making the playoffs for a second year in a row. It has been widely speculated that Julien, who will turn 56 years old a week from Saturday, would not survive a second straight DNQ, despite his reputation as one the NHL’s most respected and structured bench bosses.
The club also announced that team president Cam Neely and boss-in-residence Charlie Jacobs will meet with the media the following Wednesday, April 20, at 10 a.m. at the Garden.
It is highly improbable that Neely and Jacobs, son of Jeremy Jacobs, who bought the club more than 40 years ago, would follow nearly one week later and announce a profound shift in the team’s coaching or management structure. It would not be a surprise to hear, be it this Thursday or next week, that the club is changing the composition of Julien’s assistant coaching staff. Changing assistant coaches is often a way for stagnant clubs to try to convince fans of a new approach.
But for the moment, it appears Jacobs, Neely, and Sweeney have chosen status quo as the way to go with a club that for two years in a row just missed clinching the No. 8 playoff seed in the Eastern Conference.
By staggering the two news conferences, however, Neely and Jacobs will have nearly a week to monitor both fan and media reaction, something that either tangentially or directly could influence what they each have to say next week.
Two playoff DNQs undoubtedly will influence season-ticket sales as well as ratings on both NESN and 98.5 The Sports Hub, the club’s two broadcast partners. It would appear the fan base now will be told Julien is back and Sweeney and Co. intend to upgrade the roster, one that was particularly hindered on defense all season, in part due to the trade of Dougie Hamilton to Calgary.