Haggerty: Firing Julien on day of Patriots' parade not a great optic

Haggerty: Firing Julien on day of Patriots' parade not a great optic

BRIGHTON -- Don Sweeney kicked off his press conference addressing the Claude Julien firing by making an apology, but it wasn't to the coach he'd just canned after 10 mostly successful years on the job.

Instead, the Bruins' general manager made an apology to the New England Patriots for announcing the Julien firing on the day of their celebration parade through the city of Boston, and then holding the press conferences while the duck boats were rolling down the city streets in front of a million-plus fans. 

"I don't want this day to take away from the great accomplishment of the New England Patriots,” said Sweeney. "But I wanted to take a few days to assess where we were at as far as making my decision with regard to making a decision with Claude.”

Clearly the Bruins had been mulling this move with Julien for some time, and they finally pulled the trigger after falling out of an Eastern Conference playoff spot with 27 games remaining. But why now instead of, say, the All-Star break, or immediately after the horrific loss to the Maple Leafs on Saturday, or even in the next couple of weeks with the bye week looming? 

"Well, we had a couple of days and two days of practice here before we get into a few games,” said Sweeney. "So we have a real opportunity to sort of step back from the emotional piece of this, and allow our players to get away and vacate it mentally and physically. I thought it was a good opportunity, today and tomorrow, to get their feet on the ground in a practice environment, which we haven't had playing 50 games in 102 days. The schedule has been challenging in that regard. 

"So I just thought the opportunity was there now as I was contemplating this decision, and the impact of the decision. Again I apologize that it fell on a day when so many New England fans are so excited, but I didn't make the schedule in terms of where these days fell on the practice schedule.”

Did anybody in the Bruins organization step in and say that maybe it wasn't such a wise move to announce the firing of a potentially Hall of Fame-worthy NHL coach on the day of a parade celebrating perhaps the greatest Super Bowl victory in NFL history? 

"The owners, Charlie [Jacobs] and Mr. [Jeremy] Jacobs, and [team president] Cam [Neely], are there on making the decisions that I think we need to move forward," said Sweeney. "I can attest to the fact that I'm always thinking about optics or whatever, but I'm not going to make a decision just based on that. I'm very respectful of the achievement that [the Patriots] had, and I'm not trying to take away from it in any way, shape or form, or trying to mute the impact of our decision moving forward. 

"As I said, the schedule presents us with a couple of days of practice and that it was important to make the move now. Mostly [it was at the time of the parade] because the PR Department explained that, once you've made the decision, you need to stand up and be accountable and acknowledge the reasons behind it and move on from there. I don't believe I'm downplaying the decision [to fire Julien] and how difficult it was at all.”

(That loud, beeping sound was Sweeney backing up the bus over his own PR staff when pressed for answers.) 

Clearly the Bruins organization felt that it was important to hold practice on Tuesday morning to get ready for the San Jose Sharks later this week, and that waiting until the afternoon for upper management's comments about the firing wouldn't have been a very good look either. After all, there's no perfect time to fire a quality coach who's synonymous with success and the 2011 Stanley Cup title. 

The Bruins undoubtedly made the decision they felt was best for their hockey club, and only time will tell if that's true. But the firing of Julien and the Patriots parade in the snowy streets of Boston will always now be intertwined together in Boston sports lore, and that means both weren't given the undivided attention they deserved. 

That's on the Bruins for making a decision to fire the winningest coach in the organization's history on a day that should have been all about the New England Patriots. It's a rough first step to the post-Julien era.  

Donato misses Bruins practice for Harvard class commitment

Donato misses Bruins practice for Harvard class commitment

It might have caused a ripple when Ryan Donato wasn’t on the ice on Tuesday afternoon in St. Louis for Bruins practice on the day after his brilliant, three-point NHL debut for the Black and Gold. But the 21-year-old Donato was still back in the Boston area fulfilling some class requirements at Harvard University to help him close out the current semester properly, and not lose the credits that will keep him in line with fulfilling his junior year at Harvard University.

Believe it or not, the schoolwork is important to the newest member of the Boston Bruins and he intends to study and hit the books on his road trips, and also intends to take classes in the summertime to still graduate on time next season.

“I’m planning on finishing the semester academically. I want to finish the semester academically,” said Donato, after Monday’s morning skate at Warrior Ice Arena prior to last night’s debut vs. Columbus. “Obviously it’s going to be something that’s difficult, but for me it was a dream to graduate from Harvard. I’m putting that off a little bit, but I need to be able to finish this semester in order to have that opportunity, and not put it off for another couple of years. I want to finish out the semester.”

Donato is also still living in the Harvard dorms while “moonlighting” as an NHL hockey player for the rest of the season, but that isn’t all so uncommon among some of the college players that leave school early. Charlie McAvoy was similarly living in the Boston University dorms last spring through Boston’s playoff run, and didn’t clear out of his college living situation until after the Black and Gold had been eliminated by the Ottawa Senators last April.

Missing practices on an NHL schedule is certainly a new one with, Donato, however, and takes the student-athlete concept to a whole new level for somebody that's already turned pro. One has to expect this was one of the things being discussed in full when the Donato family, Ryan's agent and the Bruins discussed his contract terms over the weekend before coming to an agreement.

Along with Donato, who is scheduled to fly into St. Louis and play against the Blues on Wednesday night, Patrice Bergeron, Zdeno Chara, Charlie McAvoy, David Backes, Jake DeBrusk, Rick Nash and Torey Krug were all missing from the ice at Tuesday’s team practice ahead of a four game road trip against Western Conference opponents.


Morning Skate: Claude's Habs 'not a very good team'

File photo

Morning Skate: Claude's Habs 'not a very good team'

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading, while not really digging these forecasts of more snow.

*You know, if he weren’t making millions and millions of dollars I might actually feel bad for ol' Claude Julien up in Montreal busting out the “We’re not a very good team” soliloquy with the Habs. That team flat out stinks this season and these past few weeks it can’t be fun at all being the head coach of that dumpster fire.

*Darren Dreger says there is no rush for the Toronto Maple Leafs to bring back Auston Matthews before he’s ready to go, and that’s absolutely the case so close to the playoffs.

*Here are five Hart Trophy-caliber players that won’t get a sniff of the voting, but deserve some attention nonetheless. There are no Bruins players on the list if you’re wondering, but some pretty good ones in Johnny Gaudreau and Aleksander Barkov.

*The NHL general managers are weighing potential changes to the goalie-interference interpretation ahead of the Stanley Cup playoffs.

*While it still looks a Swedish defenseman is going to be the No. 1 overall pick this June, there are some other players rocketing up the list.

*For something completely different: The definitive ranking of Girl Scout cookies from best-to-worst that we’ve all been waiting for.

*Song of the Week: Haven’t done one of these in a long, long time, but I like this Calvin Harris/Katy Perry/Pharrell Williams tune that I hadn’t heard until the past couple of days.