Monday, April 02, 2007


Claude Julien Fired; Lou To Step In

No, this is no joke. is reporting that the head coach of the New Jersey Devils Claude Julien is now the ex-head coach of the New Jersey Devils. Lou Lamoriello will go back behind the bench in the meantime. ESPN also has this story as well (I think they broke it?).

I'm absolutely confused by this move. The Devils are in the middle of a very tight race with the Pittsburgh Penguins for the Atlantic Division lead and the resulting #2 seed in the playoffs. The Devils are up by one point on the Penguins with their 3-1 win over Boston, which was a solid game for all Devils involved. In total, the Devils have a record of 47-24-8, which is an excellent regular season record regardless of whether the Devils clinch the Atlantic Division.

I am shocked by this development. What happened? Did the players turn off to Julien and/or nearly revolted against him similar to what happened to Robbie Ftorek in 2000? The team has turned around their slump, but even so, firing a coach who has got the team to play very well all season long right before the playoffs is simply astonishing. I can't say I like this move, but I can't say I hate it because I do not know the whole situation. When I first heard I thought, "Is Burns ready???," but with Lou taking the position, I assume not. How will the team respond for tomorrow's game? More importantly, how will they respond in the playoffs? Will they collapse? Will they thrive? Will nothing change?

I'm just surprised by this. In Lou We Trust and all, but still. Just surprised.

RADIO UPDATE: Well, someone on HFBoards as well as Tom Lycan at Devils Due (at it's brand new location) listened to Mike & the Mad Dog 660 AM, WFAN and Lou Lamoriello was on the air to discuss the firing. While I'm going on secondhand information - I certainly didn't expect the largest sports (OK, mostly baseball what with opening season starting soon) talk radio show in the NYC-NJ area to step aside and talk hockey - the following was understood:
Now those middle three points are pretty telling. Julien didn't cross Lou or the organization; so the firing wasn't personal or anything. I'm kind of surprised that Julien is going to stay in the organization. A strictly business decision. That settles some things in my mind, I was concerned that there may have been a scandal or some ugliness in the locker room among players. Apparently, this was a long time coming hearing it (second-handed) from Lou. At least it shouldn't shake up the players too badly, if they were to expect the firing to occur. What role Julien will play in the organization is unclear. All the same, securing the decision and the #2 seed is the goal regardless of who is the coach. Again, In Lou We Trust.

I'm stunned too. There must have been something else going on that we, as fans, are not privied to.
I always say: In Lou We Trust, lets hope this holds true again.
I thought I heard one of the announcers say that Lou was on the bench yesterday during the game - clearly he wasn't happy about something?
I'm sure Lou has everything under control but what a shock! There has to be a ton of stuff that we don't know about.
Lou is the smartest GM out there. He knows what he is doing. And the players have so much respect for him that they will thrive I am sure. And, I'm sure this is a great move for Marty...he seems to respond the best to Lou.
don't let the door hit you Claude....
just kidding... but I'm excited for this move. I think we're going to see a different team rolled out for the playoffs from what we have grown accustomed to seeing so far this year.
Tom: Thanks for listening to WFAN. All I originally had was some guy on HFBoards; now I know a more trusted source than a MB poster has the goods on that.

Well, I have to disagree on seeing a different team. The Julien Devils went 47-24-8; they are (were?) not a bad team at all. With so little time left in the regular season before the playoffs - where there is such little room for error - I don't see the Devils changing too much. They're still going to play their system of hockey which has brought them so much success, after all. Lou will not dump the defense-first style, that I am confident.
By different I don't mean night-and-day different, I just mean a subtle shift in emphasis towards the offense. I can't knock Julien for their recent shakiness becuase of all the injuries, and admittedly, it is hard to argue with the season record, but since Lou just coached all those guys last season this move still doesn't seem very risky.

And like you say, I agree that Lou will definitely maintain the defense-first style that we all know and love; I just think Julien took it to an extreme and that it hurt the team at times. I think Lou sees the Devils as a defensive-oriented team that has decent offensive talent being squandered by a coach who won't take his foot off the brake pedal, heading into an absolutely crucial playoffs run that will partially dictate the success of the Newark Arena.
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