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Sports

June 22, 2007

Familiarity is the key for new Bruins coach Julien

BOSTON - When it came time for a decision on a new head coach, things ultimately boiled down to familiarity for Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli.



While still a player at Harvard University some 20 years ago, Chiarelli would return to his native Ottawa in the summer and skate with a group of local professionals. Included in that group was a defenseman named Claude Julien, a minor leaguer with the AHL's Fredericton Express who had enjoyed a small taste of the NHL with the Quebec Nordiques.



Yesterday, Chiarelli announced that he had hired Julien to be the 28th coach of the Bruins - and at least part of his decision was rooted in his relationship with the coach.



Now, for the first time, that relationship becomes professional.



"I've known Claude for a long time," Chiarelli said yesterday during a press conference at the TD Banknorth Garden. "He brings with him the same level of discipline that he had as a player. He was a hard-nosed defenseman, and he wants his team to play the same way.



"When he was the coach in Montreal (with the Canadiens), he was able to cultivate all of the young players they had and turn it into a winning formula. He has shown the ability to elevate a young player's level of play, and that was certainly a factor in deciding on him. The familiarity I had with him probably gave him an inside track."



The Bruins become Julien's third NHL team in five seasons, having previously coached both the Canadiens (2004-06) and the New Jersey Devils (last season). The deal was finalized on Monday, but there was a delay in making an announcement because Chiarelli was in New York for the NHL Board of Governors' meetings.



"I'm here today because I am very comfortable with everything," said Julien. "I'm comfortable with the players here, the direction that Peter wants to take and all the way down to my contract.



"Today Peter is my boss, but there was a friendship there before. The biggest thing now is that we are on the same page and want to accomplish the same goals."



Quite ironic, considering people haven't had time to become familiar with recent Bruins coaches. Julien is the seventh head coach in the last 10 years and the third in the last calendar year.



Chiarelli has said it's time to, "hold the players accountable." While not known for being fiery, Julien has shown he can light a fire under his players.



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