WILMINGTON, Mass -- During the Bruins-Rangers Eastern Conference semifinals, both New York head coach John Tortorella and Boston head coach Claude Julien heaped praise upon each other.
After Julien's Bruins ousted the Rangers in five games, Tortorella even questioned those who criticize Julien and call for his job.
"I think Boston has a really good chance [to beat the Pittsburgh Penguins]," Tortorella said after the Rangers lost Game 5. "I think Claude and that staff has done a heck of a job with their club. I can't believe some of the people, how they second-guess him, just being in the city for a few days, and the type of job he's done here. That's a good team. They're very well-coached, and they're seasoned. They've been through it before, and I give them a lot of credit, as far as what they've done with their club. They're a good hockey team."
Tortorella was fired Wednesday after four-plus seasons behind the Rangers bench, with reports surfacing Thursday that some Rangers players asked in their exit meetings with general manager Glen Sather that Tortorella be relieved of his coaching duties.
After Bruins practice on Thursday, Julien expressed his admiration for Tortorella, who was born in Boston and attended Concord-Carlisle High School as well as the University of Maine. Julien told the media that he doesn't expect Tortorella to be out of work for long.
"Sure I do. I said it all along, I said it before the series started, I like Torts," Julien said when asked if he felt for the former Rangers coach. "Torts has his personality and when you respect a person for who he is -- and I know he has a lot of qualities. His teams made the playoffs four out of the last five years. He made it to the conference finals last year. He's won a Stanley Cup with Tampa Bay.
"You know what? How could you not respect a guy like that? He'll be back in the league. But do I feel for him? Sure I do, because nobody likes to lose his job, especially situations where you're into the second round and you made the playoffs four out of the last five years. For some reason, it doesn't work out. But I have all the faith in the world that he'll be back because good coaches are hard to find."