BOSTON -- Since his team's 2011 Stanley Cup championship run, Boston Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli has stressed the need to keep the team's core group together, actively signing many key players to extensions.
One of the biggest pieces of that puzzle, head coach Claude Julien, is the latest to be signed long term. The Bruins officially announced Tuesday they have signed the former Jack Adams trophy winner to a multiyear contract extension. Per team policy, terms of the contract were not disclosed.
In addition to the Stanley Cup, the Bruins have won three Northeast Division titles during Julien's five-year reign. He is the fifth longest tenured head coach in the NHL after Buffalo's Lindy Ruff, Nashville's Barry Trotz, Detroit's Mike Babcock and Vancouver's Alain Vigneault.
"As a manager, I know when I want to add a player to our mix, I know and have complete confidence in Claude and his staff (that) that player will become better," Chiarelli said. "It helps me as a manager, and when you look at the progression of players we've had in this lineup and have made this team better, it's a testament to Claude and his staff. That makes my job a lot easier."
With Julien behind the bench, the Bruins have been regarded as one of the league's premier defensive squads. They are known for their discipline and their efficiency in the neutral zone.
But according to Chiarelli, perhaps the biggest key to Julien's success has been his ability to adapt quickly.
Chiarelli recalled a conversation with Julien several years ago where he told Julien the team needed more speed. With that in mind, Julien made a change in the team's neutral zone breakouts, triggering the enormous success of the 2010-11 season.
"I believe we have one of the best breaking-out teams in the league," Chiarelli said. "It's like clockwork, and when it's going, it's a beauty to watch. I believe we have one of the best defensive zone coverages in the league, and that's again a testament to him."
"Having said all these defensive accomplishments, you only have to look back at our goals scored over the last few years, that we have the ability to score, too, and defend," added Chiarelli. "All these areas, I'm very happy with, and again it's a testament to Claude and his ability to adapt to change. When he sees the game trending in certain ways, we have discussions over the course of the year and over the summer, and he's able to adapt. I think that's a great attribute of Claude."
In his opening remarks, Julien thanked the team's owners (the Jacobs family) and the front office for their continued confidence in him, saying he is "extremely happy" to remain in Boston.
"I love the organization, I love the city, I think my family is extremely happy here, so I couldn't ask for a better situation for myself personally," Julien said. "Having said that, I think the one thing I said when I first came here, is my goal was to try and win a Stanley Cup here in Boston, and we've accomplished that. Now, my goal is to win another cup with this Boston franchise.
"I remain hungry, I remain dedicated to understanding that the expectations here in Boston are always very high, and I love that kind of standard because that's what makes you a better coach, that's what makes you a better team, and I intend on making that happen and continue to make that happen as we move forward here."
Julien acknowledged that while there has been plenty of positive (Stanley Cup championship), it hasn't all been great, with the 2010 and 2012 seasons ending in playoff disappointment. But asked to speak to some of the other positives of his run in Boston, Julien spoke fondly of his first year in 2007-08, when a young Bruins squad decimated by injuries grinded their way to a No. 8 seed and took the Canadiens to the brink of elimination in the first round of the playoffs.
"What we had was a real hard-working team, a blue-collar type of team, those are the things I think fans remember from that year is how hard we worked to make the playoffs," Julien said. "Bringing Montreal to seven games, the Game 6 here people talk about quite a bit. I think that was great. It's not always just about winning Stanley Cups, but also things that make the fans proud of the team. I really felt proud of that group. Maybe talent-wise, we weren't able to pair up with most of the great teams, but we certainly worked hard to make the playoffs and deserved to make the playoffs, so that was I think a good starting point."
Asked about the key to longevity in comparison to Ruff and Trotz, the league's only coaches to be at their current post for over a decade, Julien noted the continued ability to evolve with the game's constant changes in strategy and methodology.
"I think it's changed over the years, we all know that," he said. "I look back at a guy like Scotty Bowman, who even though he went through a number of teams, he lasted a long time, because he was a great coach but also able to adapt with the game. I'm not that narrow-minded that I don't realize that stuff, and I continue to try and learn every time, or every year that I'm out there."