It didn’t take long for Claude Julien to find a new home after he was fired by the Boston Bruins. Julien signed a five-year deal with the Montreal Canadiens that made him the third-highest paid coach in the NHL behind only Mike Babcock of the Toronto Maple Leafs and Joel Quenneville of the Chicago Blackhawks. The Bruins felt that Julien had lost the room and that they needed to make a change but they are likely going to have a difficult time finding an adequate replacement despite their being plenty of options. Here is a look at the five best options to replace Claude Julien as the next head coach of the Boston Bruins.
The former St. Louis Blues head coach has only been on the market slightly longer than Julien was and it won’t surprise anybody if he is picked up soon. Hitchcock is one win shy of tying Al Arbour for the third-most wins by an NHL head coach with 782 and he’s won a Stanley Cup as well as a Jack Adams award for the NHL’s best coach. Hitchcock’s pedigree and experience would be a key asset for a Boston team looking to contend right now and he is likely the best option available to them right now.
Gallant was an NHL coach of the year candidate with the Florida Panthers last season but he was fired after a rash of injuries really hurt the Panthers’ production out of the gates this season. Gallant has enjoyed success wherever he has gone whether it’s at the NHL or QMJHL level and a lot of people felt his dismissal from Florida this season was a bad decision by the organization. Gallant could be a strong fit behind the Bruins bench and it will be interesting to see whether they consider him for the job.
The interim head coach in Boston has an opportunity to prove he deserves the job on a fill-time basis. Cassidy flamed out in his only NHL head coaching role with the Washington Capitals that ended with them drafting Alex Ovechkin but he has spent the last five years running a good Providence Bruins team and could b ready for a second chance. Cassidy is an intelligent, hard-working young coach that is definitely deserving of another opportunity and he has a chance to prove to the Bruins that he is the right fit for them.
The Bruins have responded well so far as they’ve won three straight games. They have now moved up to third place in the Atlantic Division and are just six points out of first place. As crazy as it may sound to some, their season is far from a writeoff. Cassidy has them in playoff position and if he gets them there and they compete well or win a round, he could be in line for serious consideration to keep his job next season.
An associate head coach with the Los Angeles Kings, Stevens has had plenty of success at the AHL level but doesn’t have the same level of experience in the NHL. Stevens was fired by the Philadelphia Flyers despite doing a pretty good job with the team over parts of four seasons and he is waiting for his second opportunity. Stevens has spent the past seven years as the top assistant behind Darryl Sutter in Los Angeles and it’s only a matter of time before he becomes an NHL head coach once again.
Nelson has been coaching since his playing career ended in 2000. He won two championships in the UHL and has never had a losing record as a head coach in seven full and partial AHL seasons. Nelson’s lone NHL head coaching experience was with the Edmonton Oilers when he kept them competitive for the second half of a season despite that they were near the bottom of the standings and missing Taylor Hall. It’s only a matter of time before Nelson receives another opportunity and the Bruins could be a strong fit.
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