With the recent, and very surprising announcement that marks the return of Claude Julien to his spot behind the bench of the Boston Bruins for a ninth season, it occurred to me that this might be a good time to take a closer look at the various men who coach, manage, and otherwise prepare the local professional teams for competition. I had better write fast though, as I still expect a few of them will be gone sooner rather than later.
Since I brought Claude’s name up first, let’s take another moment to look at the man who helped turn the “Big, Bad Bruins” into something just big and bad. I’m going to try to avoid repeating myself, as I have already written at some length, back when winter was turning into spring, about how their slow and inconsistent play was keeping them out of the playoffs. It was a failure that led team president Cam Neely to dismiss GM Peter Chiarelli, and many thought, to the replacing of Julien as head coach. But new general manager Don Sweeney has decided to bring Julien and his staff back, but “on a short leash.” It’s a move I’m skeptical about, but I must have missed the call from Sweeney asking for my OK. Anyway, if you were curious, Julien had a playing career that stretched from 1980 to 1992, which, except for one stint with the Quebec Nordiques in the NHL, was spent in the AHL, IHL, and the CHL. His coaching career included rather short head coaching jobs in Montreal as well as New Jersey, before coming to Boston, where he has managed one Duck Boat Parade. I’m not anticipating another ride soon, or a particularly long leash.
I’m including Sox manager John Farrell at this point in the short leash bunch because I have to believe, despite a recent vote of confidence from owner John Henry, he has to still be on shaky ground as the team continues to look bad at the plate, and even shakier in the field. For those of you wondering, Farrell had a pitching career in major league baseball that stretched from Cleveland in 1987 to Detroit in 1996. Although he did have a career best year while pitching for the Indians of 14-10, overall, he was a sub .500 pitcher at 36-46. As it turns out, he’s also a sub .500 manager, with a 344-355 record through his first 699 games. He does, as you may remember, have one World Series title to his credit, a feat that also earned him The Sporting News’ 2013 AL Manager of the Year. Farrell also has on his resume three years (2007 – 2010) of a being a rather well thought of pitching coach, and two years of not so successful managing (154-170) in Toronto. Given that he’s only had one winning season in five, I’m guessing his next job is as a pitching coach.
THE CELTS AND REVS
The “New Guys”, also known as Brad Stevens and Jay Heaps (pictured), are next on my list. A couple of 38 year olds, they each came to their present positions in somewhat different ways. Stevens, I would expect, has the larger national awareness, as he led a relatively unknown Butler to two regional NCAA Championships as well as two Final Four appearances before taking over the Celtics in 2013. Heaps is a local product, graduating from Longmeadow High School (just outside of my hometown of Springfield) before going onto an impressive run of teams that included Duke University, the U.S. National teams, and in MLS with Miami and New England. He took over coaching the Revolution on Veterans Day in 2011, and has led them to a 38-41-20 record so far, including an appearance in last year’s Championship Game. Stevens has a growing reputation has a coach for whom players, especially of the veteran free agent variety, want to play. This has led to a growing sense of hope among Celtics fans as we look to the off season. The Revs also seem to be generating the kind of excitement that will hopefully lead to a new fútbol stadium, likely in South Boston. I will keep you posted…
I seriously considered leaving this space blank. If you don’t know Bill Belichick by this point, then you must have spent the last several decades on the same desert island that Tom Hanks was on. I still recommend that you pick up the David Halberstam book from 2005, “The Education of a Coach.” It’s actually, at its heart, about Steve Belichick, and the influence he had on his son. I believe if you read it, then you’d understand why I say that Coach Bill has too much love and respect for the game of football to cheat. He’d push the hell out of any and every envelope he comes across, but he wouldn’t cheat. If you don’t want to read that one, get Halberstam’s book “The Coldest Winter.” It’s about the Korean War. It’s worth it.
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- The “Nice Ring To It” Edition - February 3, 2017
- The “Shaken, Not Stirred” Edition - January 17, 2017
- The “Malcolms in the Middle” Edition - January 11, 2017
- A “Catching Up, Following Up, and Weighing In” Edition - December 31, 2016
- The “Cannon and Flowers” Edition - December 21, 2016
- The “Farm, for Sale” Edition - December 10, 2016
- The “Tebucky Jones Tribute” Edition - November 13, 2016
- The “World, Serious” Edition - November 1, 2016
- The “Easy Come, Easy Go” Edition - October 18, 2016