BOSTON (CBS) — As Claude Julien will tell you, he’s been fired a number of times over the last few seasons.
But that became a reality on Tuesday, as the Bruins moved on from the winningest coach in franchise history. 98.5 The Sports Hub’s Bruins play-by-play man Dave Goucher joined Toucher & Rich on Tuesday morning to discuss the move, and said he was still surprised even though it’s been talked about at great lengths for nearly two years.
“What’s odd about it is this has been talked about for so many years now that when it finally happens it’s surprising. I was surprised to find out about it. There was a thought a couple of weeks ago during that four-game losing streak that something might happen then,” Goucher said. “Why do you make a coaching change? Because you feel your team is under-performing. My question would be if this team is legitimately good enough to make the playoffs, and we’ll find that out over the next 27 games.”
Bruce Cassidy will take over for Julien on an interim basis, who has lengthy resume in the minors. He most recently coached the Providence Bruins from 2011 until being promoted to the Boston bench this season, guiding them to a 166-106-32 record and playoff berths in three of his four years on the bench.
But Goucher notes he hasn’t coached in the NHL since his brief tenure with the Washington Capitals from 2002 to 2004.
“Whether he is the answer or not, I’m not quite sure. I think something was going to go either way. There was going to be some sort of coaching change, or some kind of trade,” said Goucher. “Are they where you thought they would be, fighting for a playoff spot? Before the season I was hoping they’d be fighting for a playoff spot and they are, though they’re kind of holding on by a fingertip. They felt that, obviously, some change was needed.”
If Cassidy isn’t the answer, Goucher said there really aren’t any prime candidates out there at the moment to replace Julien.
“There is nobody that really jumps to the forefront of your mind, where you say ‘they’ve got to get Coach X.’ Cassidy is kind of a younger coach, do they go in that direction? The Flyers hired Dave Hakstol out of college last year and had some success, do they look towards that road? I don’t know, that has to be sorted out. But they’ve got their work cut out for them,” he said.
“If you look at the bigger picture, they’ve missed the playoffs the last two years and this year they’ve had trouble gaining any traction,” added Goucher. “Is this team, as currently put together, good enough to get into the playoffs? Some nights they look like a playoff team, and other nights they look like they’re not.
“How much falls on the players? As professionals, having yourself ready to play each and every night, for whatever reason especially at home, they’ve had a hard time doing that the last couple of seasons,” said Goucher.