(Jonathan Hayward, AP)
By Court Lalonde (@courtlalonde)
June 22nd, 2007 you became the 28th coach of the Boston Bruins and brought the team back to the playoffs in your first season. The Bruins had missed the playoffs the previous three seasons and seemed the franchise was in disarray. In 2008 you were rewarded with the Jack Adams Trophy, voted the best coach in the NHL. In those first two years, fans started to see how good of a coach and leader you were and how the players reacted to you.
Your system helped a player like Patrice Bergeron shine and showed the rest of the NHL that he is one of the best two-way centers in the league. You showed some patience with our young players but also your stubbornness with playing the veterans. You earned the respect of your peers and players and made Montreal regret their decision on letting you go two seasons before.
On June 15th, 2011 you help bring the Stanley Cup back to Boston for the first time in 39 years. You helped bring so much excitement that was lost back into the fans of the Boston Bruins that day and made some new fans for life.You helped shape the career of a young Brad Marchand into the all-star he is now and every now and then, you tried to make sure he didn’t get into trouble.
During the lockout, you embraced the community in Boston and coached a youth hockey team for charity. You held a raffle to chose which team you would coach and all the proceeds went to the Boston Bruins Foundation and Massachusetts Hockey.
2012-13 you brought our beloved Boston Bruins back to the Stanley Cup final only to lose in the sixth game to the Chicago Blackhawks. You followed that up the next year by leading the Bruins to the Presidents’ Trophy by getting first place overall in the NHL. Four times the Bruins finished first in their division while you coached them. In ten seasons with the Boston Bruins you lead them to the playoffs every year but three. Your total wins as coach were 419, the most of any Bruins coach in the history of the franchise.
Coach is defined as a person who trains an athlete or team of athletes, but you were much more than that to the fans who cheer for the Boston Bruins. You were our voice when the refs blew a call, the person who would yell at the guys when they pissed us off and the guy who we could always count on to tell us like it is. You were there for the good and bad and never shied away from during the bad. We will always remember the look on face when you lifted the cup, and wherever you may end up, you should always know that you have a home in the hearts of every Boston Bruins fan and we will never forget you.
Thank you, Claude