The Boston Bruins perfected the art of the news dump Tuesday morning by firing Coach Claude Julien on the same day the New England Patriots are to hold their Super Bowl parade, thus ensuring that coverage of the news will be relegated to the deeper recesses of the Hub’s sports media.
Julien had been Boston’s coach since 2007 and in 2011 led the Bruins to their first Stanley Cup in 39 years. But Boston missed the playoffs in each of the past two seasons and sat at 58 points after Saturday’s 6-5 home loss to the Maple Leafs, which moved Toronto to within one point of the Bruins for third place in the Atlantic Division even though the Maple Leafs have played five fewer games.
Injuries and goaltending have been the Bruins’ undoing this year. Boston allowed 20 goals — 17 at even strength — in its last five games. Starter Tuukka Rask has been overworked because backup Zane McIntyre has been dreadful, going 0-4-1 with a 3.97 goals-against average and an .858 save percentage. Rask started against the Maple Leafs, his 12th consecutive game in net, but was pulled after allowing four goals. McIntyre let in the last two, including William Nylander’s game-winner with 1:36 left.
Few think Julien, 56, will be out of work for long.
Assistant coach Bruce Cassidy will take over for Julien, Boston’s all-time wins leader at 419, on an interim basis. Cassidy’s previous NHL head coaching tenure with Washington was not, shall we say, a whole lot of fun.