WILMINGTON – Bruins coach Claude Julien heard the report that club president Cam Neely was trying to get him fired last season, and called it “speculation” while stopping a bit short of actually calling it untrue. A report from the Boston Globe indicated Neely was angling to make a coaching change right around the ugly January 4 loss to the Carolina Hurricanes that spurred Charlie Jacobs to call the team’s performance “unacceptable.”
Julien said he feels like he was the full support of Neely and GM Don Sweeney as he enters his ninth season coaching the Bruins. The B’s bench boss also indicated that the new management group had ample chance to make a coaching change if that’s what they really wanted to do while making alterations this summer.
“That’s what has been out there. Is that the truth? That’s the biggest question. I guess that comment keeps coming back and I remember meeting with Cam about that … that 0-0 comment. It’s so long gone,” said Julien while addressing the Bruins media on Wednesday morning at Ristuccia Arena. “We’ve been together on the road and we’ve had drinks. We’ve spent time together, so it’s foolish to think a president is hovering over a coach’s head just waiting to fire him.”
“He’s had the power, I guess, to [fire me] and he didn’t. So I think that right there has got to tell you something. It's not an issue for me. Those things come out in different ways, and those are things you live with in this business. There is all kinds of speculation, but there is no concrete evidence.”
Julien is, of course, referring to the Neely comment from way back in an infamous 2010 interview with WAAF where he vented during a particularly frustrating stretch: “Goals against isn’t an issue — goals for is an issue,” Neely said on WAAF. “The power play is an issue. … I think the name of the game is that you still have to score one more goal than the other team. It’s not about trying to win 0-0.”
The Bruins went on to recover from those offensive woes and won the Stanley Cup that season, and helped create a secure place for Julien and GM Peter Chiarelli until they failed to qualify for the playoffs this spring for the first time since 2007. The Bruins coach said he feels secure with Neely and Sweeney to start this upcoming year, but there’s no way of knowing how long that will last for Julien once the season begins.