Nice guy. Driven. Honest. Tough. Straight shooter. Boring (in the good sense, of course). Overachiever. And, of course, defensive-minded.
All of those descriptions fit to a “T” when it comes to Boston Bruins coach Claude Julien.
The guy is one, solid hockey guy.
Well, if what has happened the last two or three weeks continues the next two or three weeks, we may have to add another descriptive:
Best and most innovative coach in the game.
It’s crazy, isn’t it? He was a bum, almost a fired bum. Now he’s quite possibly the best.
Maybe he’s like most guys, somewhere in between. Or maybe what we’re seeing his Bruins do to the New York Rangers and Pittsburgh Penguins is extra, extra special.
We’ve heard about clandestine offseason meetings two and three years ago that president Cam Neely and general manager Peter Chiarelli had with Julien to explain the need for him to get out of his comfort zone and score more goals.
Bruins fans, for four-plus decades, have become accustomed to tough, hard-hitting, physical teams, good to great goal-tending, and lots of points on the offensive end.
But Julien, who has coached here six seasons, has always pointed to those pesky stats.
Since he has been here the Bruins have finished 25th, 2nd, 29th, 8th, 2nd and 11th this season in goals scored. The numbers say he has opened up the offense.
He hasn’t budged, though, from his mantra, which states that a very good offense comes from a very-good-to-great defense.
We also seem to really like coaches with Type-A personalities who aren’t afraid to throw hockey sticks on the ice when they don’t get their way (see Harry Sinden, Don Cherry, Mike Milbury, etc.).