You may have heard this week, that one of the top-25 winningest coaches in NHL history was fired. Claude Julien, was let go from Boston after spending a decade with the team, in which he won a Stanley Cup. I don’t know if you remember that, but let’s move on from that.
Going into the season, it was widely assumed that it would take a lot for the Canucks to bring Willie back next season. However, the Canucks have performed better than people expected (not difficult) and perhaps the plane isn’t ready to take off quite yet. That being said, Julien would be an asset to any team.
Should the Canucks pursue him as a coach? I asked our writers what they think.
Should the Canucks pursue Claude Julien as a coach?
Let’s start by saying that I don’t think that Willie Desjardins should be fired. Yes, he makes personnel and systems choices that I don’t agree with. But he doesn’t deserve to be canned right now. With that being said – Julien represents an improvement over the current coaching staff, so it does make sense to trade up. Willie Desjardins isn’t being paid a large sum currently, so making the change wouldn’t be a huge financial burden. We harp about making minor improvements everywhere you can, and making this move would provide an improvement for years to come.
On the one hand, Claude Julien is among the best and most qualified coaches. Coaches of this calibre don’t come around often. If the Canucks are keeping with the “compete while we rebuild” thing, then I guess he’s the guy for it. Even if they’re not, you could make a case that hiring Julien accelerates the process. On the other, I wonder if this just continues the delay in acquiring the kind of high-end talent the Canucks need the Sedins to pass the torch to. This team so desperately needs more talent grabbed at the top of the draft. Perhaps Julien can have a Babcock like effect — the team play legitimately good hockey while all the while finishing with a bad enough record to help them land a first overall pick.
I agree with Ryan that it doesn’t make sense to fire Willie right now. We’re two thirds into the season and Benning has said that they’re going to let everything run its course. Julien is on a whole other tier than Desjardins in terms of coaching and reputation, so it would be crazy to not want him on our team. If we let go Desjardins, I highly doubt Julien would still be available unless he’s seriously considering Las Vegas. Apparently he’s already in conversation with other teams…
If the Canucks want to win, they should hire Claude Julien right this second. But they shouldn’t want to win.
I agree with the Panthers, the Canucks should pursue Claude Julien and they should have pursued him illegally long ago. Thankfully, he won’t get hired until the Canucks miss the playoffs but he may not be around by then. Its tricky but for the greater good, the greater “real good”, this move should make the move. The Boston thing bugs me but hey, Cups are Cups.
Whenever you can get a coach who has a noticeable impact on a team’s performance, you should do it. Julien’s one of the few coaches who can do that. While firing Willie doesn’t make sense right now, this is like trading a second pairing blue liner for an elite forward. You do this whenever you get the opportunity to because it will make the team better over time.
Is Claude Julien a better coach than Willie Desjardins? Undoubtedly, yes. But that doesn’t mean the Canucks should necessarily fire Willie right now to go for an upgrade. What would concern me is that the Canucks now have about a 3% chance of making the playoffs, and they should now be positioning themselves for the draft in Chicago. Hiring Julien – if that’s a possibility – may move the Canucks into the that dreaded 10th position in the West and worsen their odds at the lottery. Better to start looking to next year, and if possible, look at adding Julien behind the bench in the off-season.
Claude Julien would be an asset to any team. However, if the Canucks want to pursue him they need to be patient and realize he won’t make them a contender overnight. If they are just going to fire him after a couple seasons, then it’s not worth it because this team isn’t going to be good enough to win a cup in the next couple years. If they are willing to let him ride the wave, and mentor the young guys then I’m all for it. However, I think Willie has done an admirable job with a tough situation this year, and I really don’t think he should be let go.