In a shocking Valentine’s Day announcement, the Montreal Canadiens fired Head Coach Michel Therrien and replaced him with Claude Julien, the former Head Coach of the Boston Bruins who was let go a week prior.
As two of the original six NHL teams, the Habs and the Bs rivalry has a long history. We asked some of the CoachUp staff members in our Boston HQ how they felt about Claude going Canadien.
Jess: I don’t think I’m alone in saying that my initial reaction was “WHAT?!?!?! TRAITOR!” However, upon further reflection of not only what Claude brought to the program during his tenure, I think I’m going to root for his success (as long as that success does not extend to beating the Bs…). Does that make me a bad Bruins fan?!
Adam: Bitter rivalries are one of the best parts of hockey, and I’m all for anything that’ll stoke those fires and combat the general softening of the league that’s starting to permeate the sport a bit too much for my liking. Our Bruins have been moving away from the roughneck squad that Claude led to a Stanley cup (for better or worse), and he just hasn’t been the right guy to lead this growing unit of flashier players for a while now. While I don’t necessarily agree with HOW he was let go, it was the right move, and I’m interested to see where he’ll take Montreal.
Rob: This is big news. Huge news. And, you know what? It’s awesome news. There is nothing better than rivalries in sports - and Bruins/Habs is right up there at the top of the list. A lot of people say that my dad looks like Claude, and be that as it may - or not be that as it may - Claude was the center of a lot of yelling on sports radio here in Beantown. At this point, I don’t think there is any question that he is a great coach, but he always did it his way here. His veteran-led, no frills, defense-first, puck possession teams of the last decade were not always the most fun to watch. But when Big Z hoisted that cup in 2011, a grateful city yelled in ecstasy along side him. I’m interested to see if a newer look B’s squad can adjust on the fly with interim coach Bruce Cassidy. If so, we might be seeing Claude’s Canadiens in May.
Mike: Claude has been on the chopping block for the last few years, so the firing didn’t come as a surprise. Tim Thomas allowed Claude to keep his job in 2011 after that epic overtime game 7 against the Habs (and the subsequently Stanley Cup Championship). He nearly lost it again in the third period of game 7 against the Leafs in 2013 until, you know, THIS happened. The Bruins have missed the playoffs the past two years. In a city that lives in the shadow of Tom Brady and expects greatness, that is unacceptable. With Claude moving up to Montreal this gives me a similar feeling to when Johnny Damon left the Sox for the Yankees after the 2004 World Series win. The Bruins and Habs don't meet again in the regular season this year, but one can only hope these two storied franchises get a best of 7 crack at each other this post-season.