When Claude Julien was called into Lou Lamoriello's office in April 2007 for an early morning meeting between coach and GM, he thought it might have something to do with playoff planning. With the postseason closing in for the New Jersey Devils, he thought perhaps they would hammer out exactly how things would be run for the playoffs.
He certainly didn’t expect to get fired, not with the Devils sitting in first place and the playoffs so close. But he was.
Shocked, disappointed and maybe a little hurt, Julien left that meeting with Lamoriello concerned about his future as a coach. Over the course of about 16 months, he’d been fired twice -- once by Montreal in 2006 and then by New Jersey. In his previous 12 years in the coaching ranks, he had never been fired.
He was worried, really worried. But that stress didn’t last long. He started getting calls from interested teams, and he realized within weeks, he’d still get to pursue his passion.
In telling that story this summer during a chat at the Bruins' practice facility, Julien concluded it this way: “And here I am today, 10 years later, hanging on to my job.”
It seemed crazy to even phrase it that way, since in those 10 years, Julien established himself as one of the game’s best coaches. But Julien knew -- we all knew -- it wasn’t entirely inaccurate. For as much as Julien won, as much as he climbed the ranks of the best coaches in the game during that time, there was always this belief that it wasn’t ever quite enough to win over everybody in the Bruins' front office, most notably team president Cam Neely.