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Praise Be To Foley, Vegas Golden Knights Hockey Website

Boston Fires Julien, Next Stop Vegas?

What seemed inevitable finally became a reality this morning, and everything the Golden Knights have said to be looking for is now available in one 58-year old Canadian package.

Former Stanley Cup and Jack Adams award (best coach) winner Claude Julien was fired by the Boston Bruins after nine and a half seasons in Beantown. The Bruins made the playoffs in each of Julien’s first seven seasons behind the bench before coming up three points short last year.

I could go on and on about the wonders of this guy’s career, but I’m pretty sure that’s why they made this Wikipedia thing everyone keeps telling me about. Instead, let’s look at it from the Vegas perspective. If you look back through the history of what George McPhee has been saying he wants running the show here in Vegas, he’s basically described Julien without ever saying his name.

Experienced, a guy the hockey community knows, fits the culture, and someone who they do not have to evaluate. Julien also brings one more aspect that no one would ever admit is necessary, legitimacy.

When the Golden Knights became a reality they were met with critics from all over the world (especially Canada). Then they hired George McPhee, then Kelly McCrimmon, and eventually added David Conte, Scott Luce, Misha Donskov, and a bunch more top level scouts and operations guys that has hockey insiders unanimously claiming Vegas has done remarkably well putting together its first front office. But hockey fans aren’t that easily convinced. Many have heard of McPhee, but the rest of the names on that list aren’t exactly high profile to your everyday working Joe.

Claude Julien is.

Since it’s inception the Golden Knights haven’t had it easy in the court of public opinion. The name was (still is) widely loathed. The trademark situation is a continued running joke. Locals miss the Las. And then there’s VideoGate, the scene, the name the team contest, and many other perceived mishaps that have gone on in the first seven months. But there’s one thing all of these issues had in common… they have nothing to do with hockey.

No one has anything real to complain about because when it comes to hockey operations, this team is kicking ass and taking names. The staff put in place had such a great foundation that no one batted an eye when they brought in a 25 year old scout, a salary cap website manager, a lawyer with no previous hockey experience, and a head trainer who’s only ever worked for the French circus. Add Claude Julien’s name to the list, and you go from legitimate in the eyes of the hockey obsessed to legitimate in the eyes of even the most novice hockey fan.

Winning on the ice is really all that matters, and as much as we can try to sell you Gerrard Gallant, Jack Capuano, Kirk Muller, or anyone else available at the moment, no one comes close to Julien.

In the end it will likely come down to Julien’s willingness to come to place far less hockey crazy than his previous gigs. His desire to take over a team starting from scratch and likely without the promise of striking it rich for at least five years. And his belief in an organization that has nothing to show for itself but hope, season ticket deposits, and PR nightmares.

Whether Vegas is the right fit for him, only he knows, but if I had it my way, I’d put The Creator and McPhee on the next flight to Boston to do everything in the book to try and convince this man to pack his bags and join us in the desert.

Here’s a blank check Claude, it’s time to become a Sir Julien.

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18 Comments

  1. James

    @Ken Boehlke
    Do you think Bill Foley would be willing to spend $2.5 million per year on a coach? From what I gather, Foley isn’t willing to spend up to the cap maximum in order to be competitive (at least initially). Foley made reference to the Anaheim Ducks internal budget on Sportsbook Radio when talking about his future spending plans.

    • That’s an excellent question and one I look forward to asking him Thursday when I get to talk to him again. The first year cap has much more to do with McPhee’s wishes than Foley not wanting to spend. I’m pretty sure he’ll spend the money if George tells him it’s the right thing to do.

      • PhiSig 150

        So who would be Julien’s NFL equivalent? Mike Tomlin? And Hitchcock might be similar to Tom Coughlin? And Gallant might be in the company of a Chuck Pagano? An NFL comparison of the coaches available would help. Seems like a good time to be hiring in any event. Sounds like we’ll end up with a good one.

        • James

          @PhiSig 150
          Julien’s NBA equivalent would be Tom Thibodeau. An old-school, conservative risk-averse, highly-rated coach. Defence is his calling card. He leans towards veterans. Julien is not known for developing rookies. Frosty relationship with front office. Arguably is out of touch with the modern offensive game.

          The only difference between Julien and Thibodeau is championship pedigree.

          • Phisig150

            So I take it you’re not high on him. Who do you want the Knights to hire?

  2. James

    @Ken Boehlke
    My bad. Claude Julien is on tap for $3 million next season.

    NHL head coaches salaries have gone up since Mike Babcock chose the Leafs on an eight year contract worth $50 million. $3 million per doesn’t seem so outlandish. However, there are cheaper alternatives to coach a very bad team. Foley just shelled out over $500 million. Foley wants to be somewhere in the middle when it comes to the salary cap. If I recall correctly, Foley said that he would be willing to spend the extra money on a winner. This may be case of bad timing – the Vegas Golden Knights aren’t in a position to win yet

    • PhiSig 150

      Does the NHL count coaching salaries towards the salary cap???

      • James

        @PhiSig 150
        When it comes to spending money: I get the impression that Foley is not the second coming of George Steinbrenner.

        • Phisig150

          I want McPhee to focus almost soley on accumulating draft picks and young guys with big upside. It would be great if he took a page from Hinkie. Tank, tank, and tank again. Take salary on in trades for more picks and young guys. Then when you have a young attractive nucleus you worry about luring top talent in free agency. Forget this nonsense about making the playoffs in 3 years or whatever. Trust the process.

          • RJ

            Tanking should absolutely NOT be an option. They need to build a local fan base from scratch or else they are going to be taking those draft picks to Quebec City like all the haters have pointed out. Making the playoffs as fast as possible, regardless of outcome should be the short term goal.

  3. Karl

    Claude was in Boston for over 9 1/2 years, not 8 1/2.

  4. Phisig150

    @RJ pretty sure Bettman will never let the team leave Las Vegas at least not until at least a decade plus of trying to make it work. Ken estimates 3 years of home sellouts. We need to take advantage of that grace period. We should be building this for the long haul not the instant gratification making the playoffs would give us. Don’t think getting swept in the 1st round is going to make Las Vegas crazy for hockey. Communicate the vision. Sign the coach that best aligns with it. Draft the players needed to deliver. Try to strike it rich in the draft and get our superstar. Trust the fan base. Trust the process.

    • RJ

      But there is no fan base to trust. The fan base needs to be built up before it can be trusted. The process of losing on purpose is a dumb process and I don’t trust it.

      • PhiSig 150

        You keep saying losing on purpose but it’s not. The players aren’t tanking games. Neither is the coach. Try to win every game with the expectation that we want our young guns to get their share of minutes and be relied on in crucial moments. Be active in free agency just be smart about it. Look for younger players with upside and seasoned vets that can mentor our prospects and sign them on team friendly deals that helps us maintain maximum financial flexibility in the future. Are you really content on going full out trying to win and still most likely end up missing the playoffs screwing our drafts in the process? We’re going to suck for at least 3 years let’s suck the right way that will still allow for a bright future. Las Vegas has a brand new exciting product if the only way you can sell is by making the playoffs right off the bat then the Knights aren’t doing their job.

  5. James

    @Phisig150
    ‘So I take it you’re not high on him. Who do you want the Knights to hire?’

    Do you believe in hockey analytics? Hockey analytics are light years behind baseball and basketball. Possession is key in hockey. Possession is measured by shots on goal. Claude Julien’s Bruins were hockey analytics darlings this season. They constantly outshot opposing teams this season, but one could argue that the shots were inefficient shots from the perimeter. Shot quality is an important factor.

    Julien is clearly the best coach on the market. I question whether the timing is right. From Julien’s prospective, there are better fits.

  6. James

    @Phisig150
    ‘Who do you want the Knights to hire?’

    Hockey is a form of entertainment. I very much enjoy watching high powered offenses. I was in favour of the George McPhee hiring because the Capitals are a joy to watch. I would love to hire a Bruce Boudreau type. Other fans will point to the scoreboard and dismiss Boudreau’s Capitals because they didn’t win the Stanley Cup. It’s a bit like when basketball fans belittle Mike D’Antoni’s run and gun Phoenix Suns. Perhaps there is a Boudreau type plying his trade in the AHL or perhaps he’s an assistant coach in the NHL. Mike Sullivan’s hiring got little fanfare.

    I rate Tom Thibodeau highly. He has one of the best defensive minds in the NBA. It depends what flavour you like. There’s more than one way to skin a cat. Hiring a Thibodeau type would give us instant credibility.

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