WILMINGTON, Mass. -- Speaking for the first time this offseason after the Boston Bruins kept him in limbo for nearly two months, coach Claude Julien said he understood the situation.
"The important part was to understand the business and you have to allow the GM time to assess and make decisions," Julien said at a Wednesday morning news conference. "He's got to feel comfortable, too. As much as it wasn't a lot of fun, or easy, it wasn't frustration, it was more about understanding the situation and I understood it."
After the team failed to reach the Stanley Cup playoffs for the first time in eight seasons, Bruins ownership and team president Cam Neely decided to dismiss general manager Peter Chiarelli. At the time, Neely said the next GM would decide Julien's fate. On May 20, the Bruins announced Don Sweeney would be promoted from within and take over as GM. Still, it took him until last Friday to announce Julien would remain as coach.
While Julien was waiting to learn whether or not he would return for the 2015-16 season, all the other vacant NHL coaching jobs were being filled. Julien admitted he was not given the option to speak with other organizations, but didn't feel the need to do so.
"No, not at all. From the get-go the impression I had [was] they were hoping to keep me, and like they said, it would depend on the new GM, and I agree," Julien said. "As much as you want the new GM to be comfortable with his guy, if the new GM doesn't like me as a coach, I don't want to be here either. I understood that right from the get-go. Peter was let go and basically I was waiting to see if that was going to be a good match and it turned out to be."
Last week, Sweeney said he would not apologize for taking so long to decide whether or not Julien would remain the team's coach. The new GM wanted to do his due diligence and spoke with Julien a few times about each other's philosophies and what is best for the team moving forward.
The two agreed changes would need to be made to both the roster and the style of play. When asked about it Wednesday, Julien said the changes to his systems play would be subtle. The defensive mindset would remain, but the team does need to figure out a way to produce more offensively, which is something Sweeney and Neely want.
"For people who think we're going to play a run-and-gun game, it's not happening," Julien said. "We can talk about all kinds of things: The teams that are in the finals right now, one of them had an even better goals-against average than we did. This game hasn't changed. You need good defense. You need good offense. You need both and we've been able to do that for a lot of years."
When asked if he feels he has Sweeney's full support, Julien said he believes he does.
"I do. I know a lot of speculations have been made on whether this is temporary or whatever it is. But we're really committed and determined to take this team and move forward in the right directions," Julien said.
"Don and I have had talks and have a very, very similar outlook on what's needed and what we want to do. There was never an issue there at all. That's why it's worked out. We seemed to be seeing the same things. Personality-wise, we've known each other for a long time. It wasn't as tough of a process as far as evaluating as people might think, but it was more about the time that was needed for him to feel comfortable with everything."
It's been speculated that Neely has wanted to fire Julien for some time, but the coach dismissed it as all speculation. Julien said the two men have talked on several occasions about certain comments Neely has made in the past.
"We've been together on the road and we've had drinks and we've spent time together," Julien said. "I think it's foolish to think that a president is just hovering over a coach's head, waiting [to] fire him. He's had the power to do that and he didn't. Right there it's got to tell you something. It's not an issue for me. Those things come out in different ways and those are things that you live with in this kind of business. There's a lot of speculation but there's not concrete evidence."