GM, Bruins players back Claude Julien

Updated: December 22, 2010, 10:04 PM ET
By James Murphy | ESPNBoston.com

BOSTON -- While disenchanted Bruins fans and some in the media are calling for Claude Julien's ouster, the general manager and players have declared their full support for the coach despite the Bruins' downward spiral.

GM Peter Chiarelli, when asked Wednesday morning on 98.5 The Sports Hub if he would say "unequivocally that Claude Julien's job is not in danger," responded: "Yes, yes."

Julien
Julien

He added, "I know Claude's been fodder a little bit lately. ... He's a good coach, and we're going to figure a way out of this.

"We're going to figure out why we've been flat, we're going to figure out why we have slow starts. We have a good staff here and it's incumbent on the staff to figure it out."

The Bruins have lost four of five and are eighth in the Eastern Conference with 38 points.

"Consistent with what [Bruins president] Cam [Neely] said [Tuesday], we're all accountable here. But I'm confident that our staff is going to figure it out and confident that we're going to play better," Chiarelli said.

On Tuesday, in an interview on "Felger and Mazz" on 98.5, Neely did not declare Julien's job safe, saying that the coaches and players were all accountable for the team's results on the ice.

Several Bruins players, interviewed Wednesday after practice, said they don't think it's fair to blame Julien for the team's recent struggles.

"It's BS! That's what I think," veteran defenseman Andrew Ference said. "That's why I don't read that [expletive]. We're not talking about it. The only opinion I care about is in this room, whether it's about my game, a coach or a teammate. I don't give [expletive] what anybody else says."

Veteran forward Shawn Thornton said he understands the "blame the coach" mentality but that he doesn't agree with it.

"When things go a little downhill in any big market, I think people look for an excuse and will jump on any little thing and snowball it," Thornton said. "I don't think it's warranted and ultimately it comes down to individuals and us as players to show up every night and play. It has nothing to do with the other stuff. ... Sometimes your legs just aren't there but your effort and your intensity and passion can be there every night, and I think it's upon us to bring that, not the coach. That's just a stupid excuse as far as I'm concerned."

Defenseman Dennis Seidenberg agreed. "I think we're responsible for the way we play, and if he puts out a game plan and we don't follow it, it should be our fault. It's annoying to hear all this."

Chiarelli on Wednesday admitted that hiring and firing decisions are "a collective thing," but he reiterated that he wants Julien to stay.

"That's my preference and that's my recommendation," he said. "This is a collective thing that we do on these matters. But I have full confidence in Claude and the staff to figure it out."

For his part, Julien said that he was happy to hear about the support from Chiarelli and his players, but that he also understands times like these are part of being a head coach in the NHL and professional sports.

"You always appreciate support. That's important," Julien said. "But right now my job is coaching this hockey club. Whatever is being said out there and however it goes is out of my control. I come in here every day with the same intentions and that's to coach this hockey club -- and make them as successful as I can.

"That's the way it goes. It's the nature of the beast and we all know that as coaches. That comes around every once in a while. I don't let that get to me. I come in and coach the same way. I'm going to do what I do the best I can."

"I hear what's going on out there," he added. "But I'm certainly not listening or reading because that's not a helpful thing for me. The only thing you can do is keep going forward."

James Murphy covers the Bruins for ESPNBoston.com.

James Murphy

Bruins reporter, ESPNBoston.com

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