Lamoriello cans his coach
A day after they defeated the Boston Bruins 3-1 to move back into first place in the Atlantic Division, the New Jersey Devils made the most unexpected coaching change of the season, firing Claude Julien and replacing him behind the bench with general manager Lou Lamoriello.
The move came out of nowhere, given the fact that the Devils had won two games in a row; and had stayed competitive in the Eastern Conference playoff race, despite playing without key forwards John Madden, Brian Gionta and Scott Gomez for significant portions of March.
The Devils have three games remaining in their season, are leading the Atlantic Division with a fairly motley crew and Julien was a Jack Adams candidate as the league's top coach.
Obviously there are some tensions behind the scenes to which we haven't been privy to — but my guess is that's something that will come out over the next few days. Duhatschek notes that many players looked at the team's coaching situation as one where Lamoriello was pulling the strings from on high anyway.
Of course, hockey's wiliest GM has pulled this stunt more than once before, which makes me wonder just who will be willing to take on the Devils' coaching role in the future given their volatile boss and a lack of job security.
Julien, meanwhile, has a terrific win percentage as a bench boss, but has now been fired in consecutive seasons.
UPDATE Bill Watters said on Leafs Lunch this afternoon that players had complained about Julien's tactics in the past few weeks and that this was likely the reason Lamoriello made the move.'
UPDATE Lamoriello was on WFAN today at 4 p.m., and said the decision was not due to any personal circumstances regarding Julien, and that he will remain part of the organization in some other role.
"It came to a point where, were this decision not made, I would not be doing my job," Lamoriello said.