WILMINGTON – After capturing the Stanley Cup and overcoming a slow start to the season thanks to a ten-game winning streak, everything has essentially been coming up roses for the Bruins for the better part of 2011.
But before their magical playoff run, many began to grow impatient with the team’s inability to live up to expectations. Coach Claude Julien’s job was often assumed to be in jeopardy, as his fate hinged on the Bruins’ postseason success.
The days of Julien sitting on the proverbial hot seat now seem like a distant memory, but the news of two of his fellow NHL coaches being dismissed and directed to the unemployment line struck a chord with the B’s bench boss, as Carolina cut ties with Paul Maurice and Washington gave the boot to Bruce Boudreau.
“Well I think you’re going to hear me repeat myself every time something like that happens, but it’s not a fun thing for those guys,” said Julien, who was let go midseason during his tenures in both Montreal and New Jersey. “It’s a tough job. Anybody who sees the situation sometimes understands it’s probably the easiest thing to do, but not necessarily the main reasons for the issues.
“Those people are just like everyone else. They have families and responsibilities, and sometimes they’re easy targets. We feel for them. The one thing I know is they’re both pretty good coaches and I don’t doubt we’ll see them back in the league soon.”
Bruins defenseman Dennis Seidenberg played for Maurice during his stint with the Hurricanes and certainly empathizes with his former bench boss.
“Well I liked him personally. He was a nice guy and he was a good coach,” said Seidenberg. “It just didn’t seem to work out for some reason. If it doesn’t work out, the coach is the first one to go. It’s just the business I guess.”
Seidenberg enjoyed what was a career year at the time of Maurice’s arrival in Carolina, setting personal bests for games played, goals, assists and points.
“The biggest impact a coach can have is showing trust in you and putting you on the ice a lot,” the 30-year-old defenseman said. “That’s how you get better and that’s how you improve your game, and that’s what he did for me.”
That breakout year for Seidenberg, however, began with Peter Laviolette behind the ‘Canes bench. Seidenberg noted how tough it is to feel as though you’ve let a coach down when the team’s struggles ultimately lead to his dismissal.
“It’s sad. Everybody is under a lot of pressure and you keep losing,” he said. “At some point they get fired and you’re disappointed because you’re part of the reason he got fired. It’s a sad moment at the time when he says goodbye and leaves."
The Hurricanes began that 2008-09 season with a so-so record of 12-11-2, but went on to go 33-19-5 down the stretch for Maurice and eventually advanced to the Eastern Conference Finals before losing to Pittsburgh.
“You’ve got to pick it up and start anew again,” said Seidenberg. “It’s good sometimes. You get a new start, a new face in there and a new voice. It helped when he (Laviolette) got replaced back then.”
Carolina and Washington undoubtedly hope their moves today provide a similar spark.