BOSTON (CBS) – Boston Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli instantly pointed to his club’s decision to retain most of the same cast of players from the last couple of seasons when explaining today his decision to also make sure he has the same head coach in place.
But head coach Claude Julien’s extension will be a benefit to more than just the players who show up at training camp this fall (hopefully) in pursuit of a Stanley Cup championship for the second time in three years.
With many of Boston’s key players – Tuukka Rask, David Krejci, Milan Lucic, Brad Marchand, Tyler Seguin – signed just through this season, there could be some turnover come the summer of 2013. There’s no telling what the new collective bargaining agreement will look like, where the salary cap (assuming there still is one) will stop, and how many core players Chiarelli will be able to keep in the fold.
Julien On Extension: Bruins ‘A Great Fit For Me’
That’s why a multi-year deal is both important and telling. It says that the Bruins are committed to Julien and what he’s had a major hand in building since taking over a team in 2007. It sends a message to the Bruins’ players, most of them now veterans with a Cup ring, that they’re going to bear the brunt of the responsibility for the results in 2012-13. There won’t be a lame duck behind the Boston bench to throw to the wolves should the ship begin to sink.
Looking beyond next year, however, Julien’s multi-year deal serves maybe an even more important purpose. In molding the Bruins into winners, and showing that he can work with many different types of players – long-time Bruins and journeymen, veterans and rookies – Julien has shown that he should be as strong a coach for the next generation of Bruins clubs as he’s been for the current crop.
When you look at the list of players that will need new contracts and the roster of NHL-caliber prospects, headlined by Dougie Hamilton, Jared Knight and Ryan Spooner, the Bruins could be a much younger team in the years ahead. Sure, Zdeno Chara and Patrice Bergeron, plus several other vets with no-trade clauses, will still be the anchors. Beyond maybe six or seven mainstays, though, the team will probably be leaning heavily on the likes of Seguin, Hamilton and other under-25 up-and-coming stars.
Julien, along with his pretty static staff over his five seasons, has proven he can develop young players. It took just one season for Seguin to be able to both flash his offensive upside and be a responsible two-way player with an amazing plus/minus. Lucic, Krejci, Bergeron, Adam McQuaid … the list of young players that have met or exceeded expectations in black and gold far outnumber the ones that haven’t played up to their potential. It should be noted that the ones that didn’t fit Julien’s way haven’t exactly made the Bruins look bad elsewhere.
The best coaches are able to reach each individual player in a unique way. Plenty of bench bosses have come and gone that couldn’t deal with veterans but were great with rookies, or vice versa. In Julien, the Bruins have the rare one that can handle all comers. So getting him signed long-term should pay off in the present and the future.