BOSTON — The Boston Bruins fired Stanley Cup-winning coach Claude Julien on Tuesday, with the team in danger of missing the playoffs for a third straight season.
General manager Don Sweeney announced the change on Tuesday, naming assistant Bruce Cassidy the interim coach. The firing comes the same day the city celebrated the New England Patriots' Super Bowl win with a parade.
"These decisions are not easy, and Don has my full support," said Bruins president Cam Neely in a statement. "I believe that we have a better team than our results to date show. I also recognize that there are areas that we as a group need to improve upon. This decision does not in any way diminish Claude’s legacy as a Bruins coach. I would like to wish him and his family all the best moving forward."
Bruins owner Jeremy Jacobs echoed Neely's remarks.
“Claude Julien is the all-time winningest coach in Boston Bruins history, and my family and I join Bruins fans in thanking him for the many great memories that have come while he has been behind the Bruins bench," Jacobs said in a statement. As a management team, we set a high standard for ourselves, and I believe that our organization is moving in the right direction towards meeting and exceeding those standards."
Boston has lost two in a row and six of nine and fallen out of a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.
Julien has one year left on his contract following the 2016-17 season.
Julien was the longest-tenured current coach in the NHL, starting with the Bruins in the 2007-08 season. He went 419-246-94 in 10 seasons, including two trips to the NHL finals and a Stanley Cup title in 2011.
The Bruins lost in the finals two years later, and the year after that earned 117 points and the Presidents' Trophy before losing in the conference semifinals to archrival Montreal.
But in 2014-15, Boston was eliminated from the playoff race on the final day of the regular season — the first time in Julien's tenure they sat out the playoffs. Again last year, the Bruins had a chance to reach the playoffs heading into the final week, but they lost nine of their last 12 games to finish ninth in the Eastern Conference.
The Bruins hadn't kept a coach who missed the playoffs two straight years since 1965, when Milt Schmidt was given a third year before he was replaced by Harry Sinden.
Julien was spared in 2015 when team president Cam Neely decided to fire general manager Peter Chiarelli instead, replacing him with Sweeney. Sweeney gave Julien another chance, saying "He's the coach of the Boston Bruins as of today, for sure."
Julien's Tenure in Boston
|2007-08||41||29||12||94||Lost 1st round|
|2008-09||53||19||10||116||Lost 2nd round|
|2009-10||39||30||13||91||Lost 2nd round|
|2011-12||49||29||4||102||Lost 1st round|
|2013-14||54||19||9||117||Lost 2nd round|
Julien said at the time that he had little room for error.
"It just means that I'm probably the next one to fall off the totem pole, right?" the former Canadiens and Devils coach said last summer. "I'm going to try to make it last as long as I can."
Again last summer, the Bruins spared him, with Sweeney saying Julien was the right coach to guide the team through a "bumpy transition."
"We've got work to do; I've got work to do," Sweeney said after the team missed the playoffs last year. "There's no question that we have areas we want to address and collectively we've already started to assess that."
Last season, Julien became the all-time Bruins leader for wins by a coach. He is the fourth NHL coach to be fired this season.
Julien's firing leaves Chicago's Joel Quenneville as the longest- tenured coach in the league. He was hired in 2008.