With a 4-0 win over the Buffalo Sabres last night, Claude Julien picked up his 400th win as the head coach of the Boston Bruins. Julien passed the legendary Art Ross last season, who had 387 wins as the Bruins bench boss in 772 games, as the winningest coach in franchise history. Julien has 400 wins in just 716 games, with many more still to come.
After his shocking dismissal from the New Jersey Devils in 2007, Julien was hired by Boston to replace the failed experiment that was Dave Lewis. Right away Julien found success, leading the Bruins to the postseason in each of his first three seasons. He took the next step in 2010-11, when Boston went on to take home the Stanley Cup. Just two years later, they were back in the Cup Final. Overall, Julien made the playoffs for seven years in a row to begin his tenure in Boston, picking up over 300 wins along the way.
However, the past two years have not gone as smoothly for the Bruins coach. Boston has fallen victim to late season collapses and missed the playoffs each of the past two seasons. A team (and city) that had grown accustomed to making the postseason year after year were unhappy with the Bruins falling short of playoff hockey in back-to-back years, and Julien took the brunt of the blame. Yet, with his name on the chopping block in two straight seasons, the Boston brass has stuck with the franchise’s most successful coach, and Julien has continued to pick up wins.
The Bruins are off to a 7-5-0 start, and if the playoffs started today, they would finally be back in. With four wins against the division in their past five games, Boston is playing strong hockey and Juliens appears to be off the hot seat for now. He has shed the label of a coach who does not work well with young players, as giving prominent play time and responsibility to the likes of David Pastrnak and Brandon Carlo has paid off thus far. With a great core of players in their prime, including the dynamic duo of Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand and the red-hot Tuukka Rask, Julien has the pieces to put together a lineup that could do much more than simply make the playoffs in 2016-17. If he can do that, it won’t be long before Julien is picking up his 500th win as Bruins coach and chasing the top ten in all-time NHL coaching wins.