Published June 17, 2011
Mr. Claude Julien, I bow at your feet! I kiss your Stanley Cup ring! Never one to like your coaching style, never one that appreciated your stubbornness, I will never again question your coaching decisions.
Mr. Julien, you have done what the likes of Don Cherry, Fred Creighton, Bep Guidolin, Gerry Cheevers, Terry O’Reilly, Mike Milbury, Steve Kasper, Brian Sutter, Rick Bowness, Pat Burns and Mike Keenan could not do. Dave Lewis and Robbie Ftorek were clueless about what you have accomplished.
Mr. Julien, you have brought Boston a Stanley Cup and you did it your way. Critics like me, be damned! You never wavered in what your plan — whatever it was — would be. You didn’t change your mind on who would dress and who would sit. As you have said numerous times, all that matters is what those men in the locker room believe in. And they believed in what you said, planned, drew up, and they went out and did it all and captured the most beautiful chalice in the world.
It’s has been such a long time since the Bruins owned this city and our hearts because of all the things that have happened along this 39-year Cup hiatus. So many times I would watch the Final and say, “When are we gonna win this thing?” Well, after Wednesday night’s thorough domination of the Canucks in Game 7, as Tim Thomas said, “You want it, you got it!”
From Thomas’ outstanding goaltending, to the work of Brad “The Rat” or “Li’l Ball Of Hate” Marchand, to the great defensive corps, the Bruins never gave the Canucks a chance to get into this game. It was the line of Patrice Bergeron, Marchand and immediate retiree Mark Recchi that led the way. Marchand and Bergeron had two goals each, and it was Marchand’s first goal that was insurance and really took all the steam out of Vancouver.
Historical things happened in this year’s playoff. It may be a long time before a goaltender has the microscopic goals against and save percentage of Thomas’ Stanley Cup Final. He and the Bruins played and won three Game 7s, two of them by shutout.
Thomas assuredly was the Conn Smythe Award winner (as playoff MVP) and if anyone threatened him for it, Marchand would have been the one, scoring 11 playoff goals — as a rookie.
But it was the foresight and the stay-the-course, no in-game-adjustments mentality of Julien that ultimately led this Bruins team through every loss with resiliency to bounce back and take the next game. Especially after 0-2 deficits in the opening round and the Final, Julien continued to overlook the media, who wanted changes. As he said after the game Wednesday, “You’re going to be subject to criticism, but the most important thing is what’s going on inside that dressing room. There wasn’t a guy that didn’t believe in what we were doing. Today you’re rewarded for it. Had I worried about that other stuff, I probably wouldn’t be standing here today.” So true.
And with that, let the Duck Boats roll on Saturday with Mr. Julien at the Head of the Class.
The Bruins surprised and entertained us for 63 days — from the end of the regular year through the end of the playoffs — culminating in winning the — their, our — final National Hockey League game.
The Boston Bruins: 2011 Stanley Cup Champions.
One wish: let’s not make it another 39 years!