Bruins fire Claude Julien, name Bruce Cassidy interim coach

Bruins fire Claude Julien, name Bruce Cassidy interim coach

BOSTON -- The Bruins are in danger missing the playoffs for the third straight season, so they made the only high-impact move they could make: They relieved the winningest coach in franchise history of his duties Tuesday morning, firing Stanley Cup winner Claude Julien and naming Bruce Cassidy his interim replacement.


The move comes after a rough 6-5 loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs on Saturday night that places them in a difficult, uphill climb for the postseason with just 27 games remaining. Clearly the Bruins, who've been kicking the tires on the trade market, are looking for something to shake up a team that's been stuck deep in the mud. Firing the coach was the only alternative for president Cam Neely and general manager Don Sweeney.

The timing -- 8 a.m. announcement of the firing, 11:30 a.m. press conference by Sweeney -- unfortunately gives off the optics that the Bruins are trying to make this potentially unpopular move under the cover of the New England Patriots victory parade rolling through Boston at the same time. In the end, though, it probably couldn’t be helped. The logical thing for the club to do is make Sweeney and Cassidy available to the media right after the Bruins practice on Tuesday morning.

In any case, it seemed more and more obvious recently that Julien's days were numbered. The Bruins continued to play rudderless, uninspired and sloppy hockey, much as they have for about 2 1/2 seasons now. The capper may have been watching some veterans going through the motions in a must-win game last weekend against the Leafs. Mistakes, half-hearted back-checks, and porous goaltending may have pushed Neely and Sweeney to the point of no return.

Julien was in his 10th season with the Bruins after having been named the 27th head coach in team history on June 21, 2007. He was the longest-tenured active head coach in the NHL, and was Boston’s all-time coaching wins leader with 419 career victories, compiling a 419-246-94 record and .614 winning percentage in 759 games.

The Bruins advanced to the playoffs in his first seven years behind the Boston bench, and Julien owns the B’s career coaching record with 57 postseason wins while having led them to a Stanley Cup title in 2011 and another Stanley Cup Final appearance in 2013.

Cassidy, 51, was in his first season as an assistant coach with the Bruins at the NHL level after five seasons with the Providence Bruins, and has previous NHL head coaching experience with the Washington Capitals from 2002-04 where he helped lead the Caps to a 39-29-8-6 record and a postseason berth in his first season behind the bench with the team.


Morning Skate: Is the NHL playoff system broken?

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Morning Skate: Is the NHL playoff system broken?

Here are all the links from around the hockey world and what I’m reading while the Bruins are finally back in Boston.  

*Larry Brooks says that the NHL playoff system is broken as it continues to “pass off mediocrity as parity.” I don’t really agree that there’s a big problem, but it will be too bad that one of the Eastern Conference’s two best teams (Boston and Tampa Bay) will be done after the second round of the playoffs.

*A pretty cool gesture from the Montreal Canadiens as a group of them wore turtlenecks during warm-ups on Saturday night prior to playing Tomas Plekanec for the first timer as a member of the Toronto Maple Leafs.

*Congrats to the Team USA Paralympics squad for capturing another Gold Medal for the Red, White and Blue. What a great story they are.   

*Evander Kane opens up about Winnipeg, his past on social media and hockey culture as he seems to have found a place where he’s comfortable in San Jose.

*The Carolina Hurricanes are suspending their GM search until the group of available candidates can widen in the offseason. That was probably always for the best.

*The New York Islanders are getting a little weird with things here late in the season as they’re taking a look at John Tavares on the wing. Hmmm. Seems like an odd move.

*For something completely different: A great return for Bill Hader to Saturday Night Live where he revisited a number of his best characters.


Backes escapes skate blade situation with deep cut that 'wasn't too dangerous'

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Backes escapes skate blade situation with deep cut that 'wasn't too dangerous'

TAMPA – David Backes certainly didn’t escape the scary situation with an errant skate blade unscathed, of course. 

The 33-year-old limped his way to the Bruins team bus out of Amalie Arena after Boston’s 3-0 shutout win over the Tampa Bay Lightning, and needed approximately 18 stitches to close up the gash on his right thigh. But Backes was still able to joke about it as he exited the dressing room while knowing that it could have been much, much worse with that kind of freak accident on the ice. 

"I'll play a second period one of these days,” said a smiling Backes, who was forced out of Saturday night’s loss with the skate blade cut in the last minute of the first period and exited the Florida loss as well after catching a match penalty in the first period as well. Luckily for him, there was no structural damage to Backes’ right leg after Yanni Gourde caught him in the thigh area as both players were down on the ice around the Tampa net.

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There was a lot of blood, however, as he quickly exited the ice, sped past the bench and headed right to the Bruins dressing room with Bruins trainer Donnie DelNegro trailing right behind. 

“I went in and saw him between periods. He’s okay. There’s no structural damage. There will be concern going forward about swelling or infection, but it looks like he’ll be okay. We’ll classify him as day-to-day, but I don’t know if he’ll be ready to play on Monday,” said Bruce Cassidy of Backes, who actually scored the second goal of the game for the Bruins as a power play strike. “You see a guy coming off like that and you see the blood pooling up, and you’re always worried they could hit an artery somewhere. He was able to get up. That was the first good sign and he was able to be tended to quickly. 

“It is scary. But we were told it would be a deep cut that would require some stitches, and it wasn’t too dangerous.”

For now it just becomes an eventful month for Backes where he’s been suspended, tossed out of a game with a match penalty and now forced out of a game after a freak skate blade incident, but there’s no doubt he’ll return better and stronger than ever in rapid fashion as he’s done through the last two seasons with the Bruins.