BOSTON - Just because the Boston Bruins are bringing back the core of last year's team doesn't mean they're content to stand pat, general manager Peter Chiarelli said Tuesday after signing coach Claude Julien to a contract extension.
"We feel that we've come a long way to keeping this critical mass together for this team, because I believe it's a strong team and will continue to be a strong team," Chiarelli said at a news conference a day after the extension was announced. "One of the core components of this—of this critical mass—is sitting beside me in our coach, Claude Julien."
In five seasons with Boston, Julien has a record of 228-132-50. The 2009 NHL coach of the year and 2011 Stanley Cup champion is third in franchise history with 410 games coached and fourth in wins, trailing Art Ross, Milt Schmidt and Don Cherry.
Under Julien, the Bruins have never missed the playoffs, going 36-27 in the post-season since he arrived in 2007.
"When I first came here, my goal was to try and win a Stanley Cup here in Boston," said Julien, who also coached in Montreal and New Jersey. "We've accomplished that. Now my goal is to win another Cup for this Boston franchise. I remain hungry. I think I remain committed and dedicated to understanding that the expectations here in Boston are always very high and I love that kind of standard."
Chiarelli said deals still need to be worked out with the rest of the coaching staff, but he expected to get it done this summer. That would mean next year's team will look a lot like the roster he has now.
One big change will be in goal. Tim Thomas has decided to sit out a year, leaving Tuukka Rask as the team's No. 1 goalie.
"Nobody's going to deny what Tim's done here for our hockey club over the years, but we've mentioned that Tuukka is a very capable goaltender. He's got his opportunity to showcase that this year," Julien said, also mentioning former No. 3 Anton Khudobin. "I honestly have a lot of confidence in our goaltending. ... I don't really see that as an issue. And that's because I have the confidence in what I have in front of me right now."
Of course, there's a chance there won't be a season: NHL owners are talking lockout again. The current labour agreement expires in September. The league and the NHLPA are talking today in Toronto.
In the meantime, business goes on. The New York Rangers made a trade to add Rick Nash and the Philadelphia Flyers signed Shea Weber to an offer sheet worth $110 million over 14 years that the Nashville Predators matched on Tuesday.
Chiarelli has noticed.
"Those are things that we certainly don't ignore. We don't react right away, but we certainly don't ignore," Chiarelli said. "I don't want it to be misconstrued by just keeping the core intact that we're standing pat here. Our foundation, our team right now, is quite good. And we got some things that we may do at a later point, we may wait until later this season.
"We're not standing still."
And even against some beefed-up Eastern Conference rivals, Julien likes his chances.
"I think, you've seen teams in the past that have loaded up with extremely skilled players and yet nothing was accomplished that they had hoped for," he said. "They can do that, and there's no doubt they improve, but they still have to show it. And my confidence right now is that this team is capable of playing against any team in this league."