Dear Claude


An Open Letter To Claude Julien

Hey there, buddy. How’s things? Not so good? Tell me about it.

Just so you know, I’m not writing this to pick on you or single you out or anything. I’m not advocating you get fired. I just have some questions to ask about the Bruins’ current 9-game losing streak that has them tumbled down into 12th place in the Eastern Conference and you seem like the logical place to start. Don’t worry, though, I have letters for Peter Chiarelli and most of the players, too.

So, tell me, when you finished the season in 1st place in the East last year and won the Jack Adams Award, when you had the Norris Trophy winner and the Vezina winner on your team, when your golatenders were awarded the Jennings Trophy, did you ever think, by February of the following season, you’d be coaching the Sixth Wortst Team In The NHL?

Because that’s where you sit today after last night’s shoot-out loss to the Montreal Canadiens at the Garden. Sure, the guys worked hard again, they put a lot of shots on net (though, a ton from the perimeter) but there wasn’t a whole lot of hitting or gritty play I thought. Not much fire on the ice, really. The power play was ineffectual yet again at a time when it really, really mattered. Once, with just a few minutes left in regulation and again in sudden death overtime. It’s like the Refs were giving you chances to win the game out of pity and still the guys couldn’t bury it.

You do realize, don’t you, that the last home game you won was played in a baseball park?

So, a few questions, if you’ll indulge.

First off, this one that’s been puzzling me and it speaks directly to the offense and the crappy power play. Your first line right now is Marc Savard, Milan Lucic and Miroslav Satan. I’ve noticed something about the two wingers you have patrolling with Savard here. Neither one of them see any time on the PP, on either 1st or 2nd unit. This begs the question: If they’re not good enough offensive players to see power play time, why are they on the 1st line? You see where I’m going? Now, don’t try and tell me this isn’t your “1st line” because anyone who doesn’t have a playmaking superstar forward like Savard on their “1st line” has to be out of their NHL coaching mind. No one would waste an asset like that, would they?

So please, then, if you would, find me a single other team that has a 1st Line two thirds of which never see power play time. Find me one single team who does that. I ask you, Claude, is it perhaps time you put your best potential scorers with Marc Savard, a proven playmaker of the highest order. Someone with a chance to put the puck in the net? Marco Sturm on the right side where he scored 5 goals in 5 games with Savard earlier in the season.

You can even keep Looch there if you just show him where the net is.

That’s another thing, by the way. Why do you allow all this perimeter play when you’ve got forwards who belong in front of that net? Why do you allow Lucic to spend so much time in low percentage scoring areas when a big, mean bastard like that could fucking clean up if he just parked himself in front of the net and looked for rebounds. Of course, that implies there’s anyone on the team who understands that what produces a rebound is a good, low, hard shot. I mean, are the curves on the guys’ sticks too pronounced or something? So many shots go high and wide or into the goalies chest it’s become absurd.

Which brings me to my next question. Blake Wheeler. The man I nicknamed The Rushkiller earlier this season because of his amazing ability to kill a breakout play with poor decisions coming over the blue line and an unwillingness to drive to the net with the puck or without. How much longer can you allow this guy to play like that. He’s not small. He’s not without abilty. However, he plays the game in a state of fear. Fear of making the play, fear of contact, fear of going into traffic. Hockey is just not a game you can play well if you’re afraid of getting your nose dirty. Wheeler, for all his speed and potential goal-scoring, is just unwilling to pay the price in front of the net.

What do you do about that, Claude? How do you make a guy realize what he needs to do? I certainly don’t know.

You’ve got the worst offense in the NHL right now. I have no idea what you can do about it. I’m hoping you do but I’ve got my doubts. Perhaps there’s an assistant coach out there somewhere who could specialize on running a decent power play, I don’t know. Maybe you’ll realize that perimeter play and weak, high shots from the point won’t cut it. Maybe you’ll set the lines and leave people to adjust to playing with one another at some juncture. The bottom line is you have to fix what’s not working.

Or else it’s you who’ll get fixed, brother. We don’t want to see it come to that, do we?




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