By Kevin Flanagan
BSD Bruins Senior Staff Writer
In Wednesday’s Boston Herald, columnist Steve Buckley writes about a conversation he had with the Bruins silver-spooned CEO Charlie Jacobs, regarding the future – and possible imminent firing – of the B’s head coach Claude Julien. What the winner of the gene pool lottery told Buckley should not come as a surprise to Bruins fans, who have seen their team tumble from the top of the league into the abyss, over the course of three short years.
“That’s not my call to make,” Jacobs said of any coaching change. “That’s on Cam and Donnie,” Buckley writes.
Wow, what leadership, eh? Over the course of the last couple weeks, the unusually tight-lipped Bruins brass has sought to send subtle messages regarding their faltering hockey club, and the man who has stood behind the bench for the last 10 seasons. The trouble is – much like the way the team has been run over the last few years – the message is vague, and the lack of direction is clearly evident.
On January 7th, the Boston Globe’s Fluto Shinzawa wrote about an exclusive interview he had with the Bruins’ general manager in Florida, focusing on the future of the team’s head coach. When asked about the elephant in the room, Sweeney said, “I’m not avoiding the question, I think it’s an obvious one. You have to look at every different thing,” an answer which fell far short of an endorsement for the beleaguered bench boss.
Two days later, team president Cam Neely took the Boston Herald’s Stephen Harris into his confidence, to bemoan the fact that for the third-straight year, the Bruins find themselves adrift shortly after the holiday season. And although the question of whether or not Claude could get canned soon wasn’t specifically addressed, Neely did say, “I’m probably not as optimistic about where we are, because I think we’ve left some points on the table that could have separated us a little more.”
Now, Monty Burns Jr. is using Buckley to put the message out that he is not responsible for the future of Julien, passing the buck to his team president and GM. All of this, in a nutshell, makes one wonder, who the hell is in charge here?
Or better yet, where is Al Haig when you need him?
The problem with the entire Bruins organization – from top to bottom – is the lack of leadership. Whether it be in the locker room, behind the bench, or in the offices on Causeway Street; the lack of governance on every level is like a giant vacuum sucking the life out of a franchise that just four years ago, went to game six of the Stanley Cup Finals against the Chicago Blackhawks.
The three-headed monster – Jacobs, Neely and Sweeney – told those assembled when Sweeney’s hiring was announced in May of 2015, that he had a plan to reverse what has been a steady descent back to the days of the early to mid 2000’s. (Remember the good old days, when Charlie’s father ordered half of the seats in the Garden painted black so the building would look so empty on television to the few who were still watching?) However, he has yet to produce one, even though they have been at it for nearly two years.
Whether or not they want to admit it, there is far more wrong with the Bruins than just the performance of their head coach. The longer this downward spiral continues, the more obvious it is that the front office is fundamentally flawed as well.
When asked by Buckley whether or not Sweeney and Neely would need his approval to give Julien the axe, Jacobs said the decision to do so would rest with them. He added, “There’s a reason they’re the president and the general manager. If they have to make a decision like this, my job would be to support them.”
Too bad he didn’t share the reason that they hold the titles they do, because if they keep performing at the level they have since they were paired together almost two years ago, there won’t be as many fans in the stands left to support his team.
Follow on Twitter @KevinMFlanagan. Email at firstname.lastname@example.org.