As the month of November is upon us, it signifies that winter’s beginning is here . . . and so is the start of the 2015-2016 NHL season. Just a few weeks into the season, the Boston Bruins sit at 7-6-1. If the playoffs were to start today, which is a very hypothetical situation, the Bruins would be the 7th seed for the Eastern Conference.
Many familiar faces still are the heart and soul of the Bruins roster but there are also many new names that officials are high on and you should get to know. Zdeno Chara, Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand, David Krejci and Tuukka Rask are all veteran players who should be a big part of the Bruins success this season. Torey Krug, David Pastrnak and Jimmy Hayes are young and talented and, the Bruins hope, NHL ready. The Bruins made some great decisions in the off-season like trading Milan Lucic to the Los Angeles Kings as the 28- year-old forward was set to make $13 million this season and become a free agent at season’s end. The Bruins also got rid of their brutally awful General Manager Peter Chiarelli.
As a new GM comes into office in any sport, he gets to also pick his head coach. The Bruins named Don Sweeney their new GM on May 20, but Sweeney was already part of the Bruins front office. He was an assistant to Cam Neely, who serves as president of Hockey Operations, and also an assistant General Manager alongside Peter Chiarelli since 2008. Since Don was already in the organization, it’s not surprising that he kept head coach Claude Julien around. But it was not a smart decision either.
Wherever Julien has been the head coach, he runs the same system. He loves to dump the puck into the corner and play physical, hard-nosed, tough hockey. This kind of play is becoming less and less common within the NHL. Fewer fights occur and more skilled players are dominating play.
The biggest mistake Julien and Chiarelli ever made was trading winger Tyler Seguin from Boston in June 2013. The reason behind trading Seguin was that Julien didn’t like the fact that Seguin wouldn’t get back on defense fast enough after an offensive possession. But just two years later, only one of the four players received in the trade is still on the Bruins roster. Meanwhile, Seguin currently has the third most goals in the NHL as well as the most assists and points in the whole league. At the age of 23, he has the potential to be the best player in the NHL this year.
Which brings me back to the point of why is Claude Julien still the head coach of this hockey team? The Bruins’ young winger David Pastrnak has a similar skill set of Seguin. Last year, Julien expressed displeasure at the way Pastrnak plays defense at times. Pasternak’s playing minutes were much lower than someone with that much potential would normally receive. It scares me to think that Julien will express the same displeasure to Sweeney and the Bruins will trade away another future superstar. The Bruins have the ability to make the playoffs this year and be a scary playoff team, just not with Claude Julien as their head coach.