Why We Hate the Bruins Today

A lot of Bruins fans are angry today.

At 7:35 AM yesterday, the Bruins announced that they had relieved Coach Claude Julien of his duties as head coach of the Boston Bruins.

Uppeer management issued a brief statement.

“I want to thank Claude for his service to the Boston Bruins, and wish him and his family the best in the future. I am confident in the direction and vision that Don has for our team, and look forward to seeing the results on the ice.” — Bruins Owner Jeremy Jacobs

“Claude Julien is the all-time winningest coach in Boston Bruins history, and my family and I join Bruins fans in thanking him for the many great memories that have come while he has been behind the Bruins bench.
As a management team, we set a high standard for ourselves, and I believe that our organization is moving in the right direction towards meeting and exceeding those standards.” — Bruins CEO Charlie Jacobs

“These decisions are not easy, and Don has my full support. I believe that we have a better team than our results to date show. I also recognize that there are areas that we as a group need to improve upon.
This decision does not in any way diminish Claude’s legacy as a Bruins coach. I would like to wish him and his family all the best moving forward.” — Bruins President Cam Neely

This in and of itself did not come as a shock to Bruins fans or the media, as there had been some discussion of it in the hockey media for weeks, and the Bruins front office pointedly did not dismiss the idea.
And, of course, in the offseason, they brought up Bruce Cassidy — who had previously coached the Washington Capitals – from the P-Bruins. He was now an heir-apparent to a coach whose job was possibly not secure. Cassidy has now been named interim head coach.

However, Claude remains one of the best and most successful head coaches in the NHL, and fans are far from universally behind this decision.
In fact, fans were angry yesterday.
Very. Angry.

Let’s get some reactions (from that font of wisdom & patience known as “random Twitter comments”)

Bob “@NHLBruins Sweeney you are sackless and you should be fired!!!”
Mel “@NHLBruins hopefully you’re next, Sweeney. You’ve failed Boston.”
Jimmy “@NHLBruins the team is deaf to upper management … just like upper management is deaf to the fans”
Lisa “@NHLBruins could have waited until Patriots finished their parade. Smh. 😟”
Jan “@NHLBruins totally bush league move doing this today to hide behind Pats parade. Close to losing this fan of 40 plus years. Classless.”
Jan “@NHLBruins we want new management. And ownership. Hope islanders move to CT so we have other option.”
Bill “@NHLBruins My 2 cents Cam Neely is the problem. Don’t think for minute that Chiarelli or Sweeney make personnel moves w/out Neely’s say so”
Brian “@NHLBruins sorry. That team is deaf!”
David “@NHLBruins i dont disagree with firing coach however this roster lacks talent to consistently compete. #rebuild”

Sports talk radio was much the same.

Notice any trends? The feedback wasn’t just bad — it was universally bad. As in 100% disapproval.
Surely this isn’t a completely representative sample, but the response was more overwhelmingly negative than any other sports related decision that I can recall.

What are some of the complaints?

  • Well, let’s start with the unfortunate and highly suspicious timing – The biggest dog in the Boston sports market – the New England Patriots – just 36 hours prior had won a Superbowl in spectacular fashion after the 2-year-long shit-show known as “Deflategate”, and had a parade scheduled for 11AM in town. All eyes were on this event. 1 million fans were expected to attend. All regional media providers were sending their reporters & cameras to this parade. All the media sources who might otherwise be interested in broadcasting a Bruins press conference live were locked into showing this parade instead.
    Not only did the Bruins chose this day to pull the trigger on a decision they had clearly been contemplating for over a year, but the time they chose for the press conference was 11:30 AM – a full half-hour AFTER the parade was to begin, ensuring that no major media outlet would carry the press conference live, and making it difficult for media members to even arrive at the TDGarden!
    Many observers felt that the Bruins were taking advantage of the spectacle to bury unpleasant news behind a bigger event. The timing of the press conference was such that it would be particularly difficult and unlikely for the possibility of live coverage, which – even in todays DVR world – is always the most impactful. And for those Bruins fans who are also Pats fans, this is just a turd in the punchbowl of an otherwise spectacular time.
  • The next complaint is the relative lack of progress on building the roster. When was the last player trade or free-agent acquisition? Well, in the offseason, they signed struggling backup goaltender Anton Khudobin, failed to re-sign Loui Ericsson, signed David Backes in his stead, and acquired Tim Schaller.
    For a team that has lost a lot of veteran depth on the blue line, swapping a couple of top-6 forwards and failing to find a backup goaltender is not a great path for improvement.
    Firing a coach when the team has not filled its obvious roster holes sure sounds like scapegoating.
  • Underlying this is doubt about the reasoning behind this decision. Exactly why did they fire Claude Julien? It’s not immediately obvious. I defy you to listen to this press conference and tell me why this move was made.
    The closest thing to an explanation is this quote: “An opportunity for a new set of eyes to come in, new voice for our players to start to hear, and hopefully their ears perked up.
    So they’re telling us that they’re just kicking over the ant hill in the hope that it will be stronger when it comes back together.

    GM Don Sweeney claims to have a plan that he doesn’t want to deviate from, but it is not obvious what that plan is. When explicitly asked what the plan is, his response was “I’m not deviating from it”. (There actually are a few bits and pieces out there, but that will wait for another time)

If we were to listen closely to the press conference, we would all get headaches from the poor recording quality and the doublespeak (and whether it was on purpose or not, there was a lot of doublespeak and non-answers), but we can try to read between the lines.

– Sweeney told Claude of his decision on Tuesday morning, and addressed the team later that morning.
– Sweeney takes full credit/blame for firing Claude
– He blamed the PR dept for press conference timing, but that it was based on the decision timing
– The Bruins are rebuilding but are unwilling to actually say so out loud
– yet they are still expected by upper management to make the playoffs
– so Sweeney says ‘bridge’ a lot
– They are pinning their hopes on prospects and waiting for them to come to fruition in lieu of making trades
– They still intend to put pressure on the team to win and make the playoffs
– They wanted to shake things up and see how Cassidy & the players react.
– Sweeney will have multiple head coach candidates (including Cassidy), and will decide in the summer.
– Trades have not materialized because he wasn’t prepared to give up the big assets necessary for meaningful trades
– The Bruins will be a buyer at the trade deadline, hoping for longer term assets over rentals

What can we expect from Cassidy?
Well, he is expected to focus on speeding up the tempo of the practices, with an eye to speeding up the play of the Bruins and increasing their endurance to allow 60 minute performances.
There is the possibility of moving from a Top-6/Bottom-6 forward line philosophy to a distribution of forward pairings.
Cassidy wants to push the speed with which pucks are carried out of the defensive zone.
Less perimeter play and more half-wall and net presence in the offensive zone.

Those are targets. Whether they are achievable remains to be seen.

About IntentionallyWidenberg

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carvinbass18
Editor

#NHLBruins recall goaltender Anton Khudobin from @AHLBruins; assign goaltender Zane McIntyre to @AHLBruins: https://t.co/T4ijswtdpx

— Boston Bruins (@NHLBruins) February 8, 2017

phonymahoney
Editor

comment image#14

Satan 81's Sister
Editor

Oh look, another thing to be bloptimistic about.

The London Bear
Member

Those two swap cities so often… Is there some sort of trafficking operation going on?? question

Satan 81's Sister
Editor

That’s why they aren’t playing well. They are too busy drug trafficking.

the german hammer
Admin

They’re goalie trafficking, which isn’t illegal, just futile.

DrHandgrenaid
Editor

Oh yeah, so this is fun- I was out sick yesterday, and overnight a snow/freezing rain/ice pellet/ rain storm came in. Boss told everyone to work from home today. Did not email sickboy. So here I am and nobody else is at the office.

Fuck.

The London Bear
Member

Nooooo

comment image

phonymahoney
Editor

comment image#7

Brutal.

Satan 81's Sister
Editor

That sucks. It snowed last night but I decided I’d rather just shovel in the morning. Of course that meant this morning was the perfect temperature where it’s just frozen solid so it’s not getting shoveled. (Unless my landlord does it.)

MadScientist72
Member
MadScientist72

You need a new approach to snow/ice removal!
comment image

UnstableElement
Member
UnstableElement

I shoveled last night knowing it was going to ice over.

Satan 81's Sister
Editor

Smartypants.

The Once and Future Bagel Bruin
Member

High of 70 today. Yesterday we hit 72.

the german hammer
Admin

I still think the move was stupid and the execution of it gutless. When should you have fired him? At the height of the shitty play a few weeks back? Bingo. Or how about Monday? Monday would have been a good time to deal with all of this.

I don’t think Claude was the problem just like Cassidy is not the temporary solution.

The Once and Future Bagel Bruin
Member

I think the reason why Claude was not fired over the off-season was because Ottawa needed a coach. Sweens kept Claude and promoted Caddidy as the back up plan.

DrHandgrenaid
Editor

Sure, but theres still a divisional rival on the market here. Rowe is only interim in Florida.

The Once and Future Bagel Bruin
Member

Do you think Rowe will do the smart thing and pass coaching to someone else? I don’t.

DrHandgrenaid
Editor

Tough to say. Probably not until the off season and realistically Claude won’t be available anymore by then. I have to assume McPhee is prepared to throw as much of his ownership’s money at Claude as possible to get him to make his expansion team reasonably competitive like Jacques Lemaire was able to do the first few years of the Wild

carvinbass18
Editor

Now that’s a hot take I can get behind

the german hammer
Admin

We did talk about it on the podcast re: Cassidy as a sort-of motivator.

Dr. Medievalist
Member
Dr. Medievalist

Good morning, friends.

I don’t have much this morning; I’m still a bit staggered by Claude not being the coach. Still don’t think it’s the right move, but it’s the move the Bruins made, so here we are.

I hope it brings something productive. I’m not optimistic, but I’ll still hope for the best.

Thetallest81
Member
Thetallest81

Lots of negativity in that post IW!

– Fans are irrational and for the more part emotionally attached to their team, they will not be able to think objectively forward about things that need to happen as this team evolves.
– There was one statement that was quoted along the lines that Claude and Management have different feeling on the quality on the roster. This to me if true is an issue, If claude did not believe in his team then maybe the team was picking up on it…that is definitely not a vote of confidence to stow upon the team. I hope it isn’t an attempt of smearing him on his way out and i doubt it is.
– I really feel Claude was in too deep and just could not think outside of his methods to find a way to drive this team to fix what is broken. Claude is a great system coach and he will help some other team do great things, and i believe the bruins competed as well as they did because he was able to get his forwards to commit defensively to make up for a lack of talent defensively. But when a team isn’t showing a full 60 and players don’t look comfortable in the rolls your coach has put them in…maybe a different strategist is needed to make the players feel confident in where they are and how they play.
– I hope the team responds. I do not blame Sweeney for announcing that he has a plan and he is sticking to it. I would rather have a GM that has resolve then reactionary and be forced to do things by the front office that he doesn’t want to do. I do not think he is Cam’s puppet, and i look forward to seeing what his final product is going to look like when he has the team he legitimately wants. As long as he can recognise which talent (Pasta) needs to stay and doesnt start throwing around money and NTC’s to players that have less of a role than players that have a bigger role in the system going forward.

MadScientist72
Member
MadScientist72

There was one statement that was quoted along the lines that Claude and Management have different feeling on the quality on the roster. This to me if true is an issue,

This sounds to me like Management’s way of spinning a disagreement between what Claude was telling them he needed to make the team competitive & what Sweeney was willing/able to get him.

DrHandgrenaid
Editor

I would rather have a GM that has resolve then reactionary and be forced to do things by the front office that he doesn’t want to do. I do not think he is Cam’s puppet

As I outlined below, I think theres a nuanced mix here. I do think the Beleskey and Backes signings (as well as aquiring Hayes, Rinaldo etc) all reflect a Cam-related influence. However, his smaller moves (Nash, Moore, Schaller, Liles) and his draft picks reflect a pretty clearly different plan.

Thetallest81
Member
Thetallest81

I think as a GM you arent going to win either way as long as fan speculation is out there. People are going to say the team needed more team leadership with the failings of the previous two years and the best player available was Backes which had both leadership experience and could fill your hole at wing and was versatile to play center if DK did not come back from Surgery 100%.

Beleskey again is a player who demonstrated on his previous team a level of effort and boardplay that the team was missing and again filled a hole missing from the Lucic trade and was arguably the best player available, as phony pointed out below the fear was if the bruins were going to over pay for a play that had put up numbers that he never did before in his career.

So…are they more like Cam’s style…yes. But were they also the best available options (without trading your assets) for holes that needed filling, again…yes. So all we can do is speculate what he was trying to do and fill with the style of play these players have. Personally in my view the team REALLLYYYY needed a guy with net front experience and had no problem getting to dirty areas. They had real issues the previous years getting someone in front of good goalies at the right times and knew where to stand for rebounds ever since Recchi’s retirement. Backes was a good fit for this.

You need more than just fast skates, you need a good mix to play against the different types of lines and goalies you will have to beat. I think they have done a good job of getting a mix of youth with speed and veterans with good play assessment and positioning. Its the defense that is limiting the forwards from being aggressive.

The team does well when the players aren’t second guessing and forcing passing in their own zone, we have defensive players that can skate around people and lately they havnt been…and part of me thinks that is ingrained into them by Claudes system…its the most infuriating consistency throughout Claude’s system…if you feel pressure pass behind your net to the other player and allow the other team to establish a forecheck and eventually if they arent making the first move out of the zone 9 times out of ten you can tell that the other team is going to score on them because of it…you can literally see the goal coming 10 second before it happens. I called almost every goal that happened in the toronto game.

The London Bear
Member

a guy with net front experience and had no problem getting to dirty areas. They had real issues the previous years getting someone in front of good goalies at the right times and knew where to stand for rebounds

Maybe I’m being naive but isn’t that something they could work on at practice? Hayes would be the obvious one given his size and limitations skill-wise, but his reactions seem a bit slow to be ideally suited by it.

There were a couple of games recently where the Bruins were tucking away those second- and third-chance opportunities but, as best as I recall, none of the five goals against TOR went in that way, despite several chances…

In general, I’m often impressed with how the Bs respond to their weaknesses. Remember how terrible the PK was as the start of last season, but they turned that around. And this season the PP were a mess at the start of the year but now are one of the best in the league. I don’t know who should get the credit for that?

The Once and Future Bagel Bruin
Member

There is one thing you have to remember about being a net front guy. You have to have the speed to get there at the right time, and more importantly, the speed to backcheck.

Thetallest81
Member
Thetallest81

agreed. you want the net front guy to get there while the other team is still scrambling to get into position, allowing the person at the point (or wherever) to have an open lane while the other creates a screen.

A slow large guy is ok for plays that are already established in the zone or PP (thus the Chara experiment last year).

While Hayes was that type of a player on Fla the Bruin’s system does not allow Hayes to get set before the shot is available because he needs to support the cycle or be ready to backcheck.

The London Bear
Member

So someone big and fast is best suited to that role?

Just looking at hockeyDB, Schaller is near the top of the lists in height and weight – I haven’t noticed if he is particularly fast or not… Vatrano is also surprisingly heavy considering his relative lack of height, but I guess you wouldn’t want to sacrifice his shot generation?

Thetallest81
Member
Thetallest81

Honestly, doesnt have to be big. The objective is to devert the eyes of the goaltender and make him have to move out of position to be able to see what happens or play positionally blind. The bigger the body the bigger the screens but all you really need is someone that is scrappy, has a good strong base to stand up to being pushed around and has good hands to deflect pucks and bat pucks in that deflect from random directions.

To me the hardest thing about being a screen player is to know where and when to be stationed directly outside of the crease and when to be a few feet outside of it to pick up on loose rebounds. Rechhi was one of the best at this and he wasn’t that huge of a player. A lot of big guys just sit in front of the net rather than skate in front of the goalie at just the right time for the shooter to release his shot, this not only takes away the goalies eyes but also allows for a moving tip or deflection and keeps the defense out of position to set and fully stick check you so you cant play any rebounds.

Backes is a player that lived off loose pucks. I, like IW, am curious to see how he performs if Cassidy runs any different type of system.

MadScientist72
Member
MadScientist72

IIRC, Cassidy ran a system much like Claude’s when he was HC in PVD. Does anyone know if that’s his natural approach or if he was just doing it because that’s how the big club did it?

Thetallest81
Member
Thetallest81

My guess would be you want the young guys to develop traits that adhere to the NHL system so they can be plugged in when call up is needed. I assume Cassidy has his own variation on how players are used together, but the overall system structure and roles would be the same.

imbiginjapan
Member
imbiginjapan

I am basically hoping that they can loosen up the ‘system’, do some experimentation and find ways to adapt to the roster rather than have the roster adapt to the system. Not exactly a winning formula but at this point I just want to see some signs of progressive thinking occurring.

Thetallest81
Member
Thetallest81

agreed!

phonymahoney
Editor

While those may be more Neely’s style of player, I don’t think either is a bad signing. IMO, if we didn’t sign Backes in lieu of Loui, then his deal would stand on its own and be “meh”, but because we lost Loui Eriksson, people can’t help but compare the two. I don’t think Backes is a GREAT pickup, but I do think he’s very versatile, and he gives us room to move a center if need be.

Beleskey is definitely a Cam-type move, and I remember the Bruins world on the twitter cesspool not wanting him specifically because it was thought that the Bruins would overpay. They didn’t overpay, and they got him anyway, so I don’t think it was a bad signing. He’s nothing special, but he can play on every line and doesn’t look outclassed doing so.

DrHandgrenaid
Editor

(I didn’t comment on the quality of those two moves specifically, just the general sort of player they are in contrast with other moves)

phonymahoney
Editor

Yup, I know. You just brought them up, and I rolled with it.

DrHandgrenaid
Editor

The thing is- apart from the whole well Firing Claude thing (godfuckingdammit)- I pretty much agree with everything else Sweeney made a point about in the press conference. I know the popular thing to do is to bash Sweeney about GritnHeart and other twitter buzzwords- but the thing is his draft picks largely do not reflect that AT FUCKING ALL (Speed Size and Skill seems to be the name of the game across the board). Okay, sure his signings etc do, so maybe theres justification to that criticism I guess- but I do not at all get the feeling that that reflects Sweeney’s plan so much as Cam and Charlie’s interference.

So… What I’m saying is that I want Cam to go away or be re-purposed (ala Lowe in Edmonton) and the Jacobs’ to back the fuck off and let us see what Sweeney is actually trying to do.

As for Cassidy- some of his comments to the media yesterday- pursuing a faster paced practice and ergo game pace, is interesting, and makes me wonder how much of that change (for all the faults of the team this season, they have played a more uptempo game pace this season than the last 2)this season has been on him vs Claude himself. I’m mad as hell about canning Claude, and hes going to be employed so soon and make this look like the stupid decision it is, but I am quietly trying to be optimistic.

Oh yeah, hi all. How goes it?

imbiginjapan
Member
imbiginjapan

While I wonder why they finally chose now to pull the trigger (Once again one has to wonder if everyone in the FO is on the same page) I just didn’t see anything changing without getting rid of Julien. So I’m willing to accept it as a necessary sacrifice.

phonymahoney
Editor

I just didn’t see anything changing without getting rid of Julien.

That’s how I feel, and I LOVE Claude.

Thetallest81
Member
Thetallest81

agreed. after 3 years of the same lack of desire to win at important games its hard to say that one day the players on this team are suddenly going to go “Hey…why do we suck some days and not others…lets do this!”

imbiginjapan
Member
imbiginjapan

We’ll see in a season or so if that viewpoint is just a severe case of bloptomism.

Satan 81's Sister
Editor

RECCH! I’m definitely bloptimistic about this team.

carvinbass18
Editor

so happy bloptimmism and its variants are taking off

phonymahoney
Editor

Yo!

It sounds like Sweeney has the right idea. I don’t know what Cam’s role is, to be honest, and I’m very biased there, so I’m staying out of it – but I do think Sweeney is on the right track.

DrHandgrenaid
Editor

I’m just convinced that there is two things going on here, because the big signings vs the small signings and picks clearly reflect different philosophies. Whether thats Cam or Cam passing down corporate edict is a question for which I don’t have an answer (I suspect ‘all of the above’), but I think to really get a GM’s philosophy is to look at their picks and smaller moves. I would like to see what a fully autonomous Sweeney would do, but I don’t think we’ll ever get that because of the Jacobs Family

phonymahoney
Editor

Jacobs Family

I truly believe this is our biggest problem.

carvinbass18
Editor

I would like to see what a fully autonomous Sweeney would do, but I don’t think we’ll ever get that because of the Jacobs Family

Agreed. We don’t need to play Bruins Hockey™. We need to play winning hockey

carvinbass18
Editor

I don’t know what Cam’s role is

I think that could be a lot of misplaced anger too. We know how Cam was as a player, is he running his FO position like he was as a player? Is his nose really that far in it? Whenever Sweeney speaks Cam speaks too. Who knows what he’s actually doing.

phonymahoney
Editor

I just don’t think he would be that stupid. It’s very, very clear the game has changed. IMO it reeks of people who don’t understand the game enough, e.g., the Jacobses.

Think about it, they’re been selling the Big, Bad Bruins brand for decades and it’s always made them money. Then we won a Cup with that style (insane goaltending deserves most of the credit in this case). The Jacobses seem to think that was less of a one-off than it actually is.

DrHandgrenaid
Editor

Based on Sweeney’s draft picks, I honestly think he thinks hes found a way to modernize that ethos- Big, fast guys who aren’t afraid to mix it up in Frederic, Lindgren, Gabrielle, DeBrusk Zboril (well… thats another issue), as well as other big guys who are lightning fast and less but reasonably physical (Senyshyn, Carlo), and small(er) fast guys who are built like a truck (McAvoy).

Again, if you really dig into what he’s doing, there is evidence for something brilliant under all the ranting and roaring. But the Jacobses and their traditionalism (and lust for cash), and (possibly unfortunately for him) their instrument in Cam are masking this sea change.

Thetallest81
Member
Thetallest81

I think this is all valid speculation, but in all honesty…not much the speculation really does for us. All we can do is watch for the next year or so and see how it all comes together.

I honestly do have faith that Sweeney has put the franchise in a better position than what it was. The team may be questionable right now, but the drafting and the cap management has been better and the franchise as a whole looks better going forward.

Only thing that will honestly change my mind is if a Pasta deal does not get done.

Thetallest81
Member
Thetallest81

then again i was pretty bloptimistic about Rinaldo playing a different style under a different team and coach and gave him a chance to prove himself…and we all know how that turned out.

The London Bear
Member

Hello folks.

Five-hole has been added to the dictionary!

No word yet on “Bruisles” or “bloptimism” but only a matter of time, surely…

carvinbass18
Editor

I would think that Bruisles being a proper noun wouldn’t go in the dictionary though right?

The London Bear
Member

Ooh, good. point. That must be it!

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