BOSTON — The Bruins won an ugly game on Thursday night, and in the process, Claude Julien passed another B’s legend.
In a tenure that hasn’t always been aesthetically pleasing or without its bumps in the roads, Julien continued his ascent up the Bruins’ all-time wins list. With Boston’s 4-1 win over the Florida Panthers on Thursday night, Julien passed Milt Schmidt in career wins with the club.
With Schmidt’s number hanging in the rafters above the TD Garden ice, there’s no denying his stature in club history. That’s why Julien was hesitant to even accept his place among the living legend.
“I certainly don’t perceive myself to be in the same category as Milt Schmidt,” Julien said after the game. “You’ve got to understand, it’s a different era. Ties were ties, and that’s the way it ended. We play 82 games, I think they played somewhere around the 60 mark, if not less. A lot different era, it’s a number.
“It’s a number of wins, but certainly not ready to compare myself to him. I’ve got a tremendous amount of respect for Milt [Schmidt], and even for Grapes [Don Cherry]. Those guys have done a lot for the game. It’s something that’s nice, to know that you’re with them in regards to the number of wins, but certainly not willing to say I’m in the same category as them yet.”
Just as importantly, Julien spoke glowingly of Schmidt as a person.
“He’s just a nice gentleman, and he’s certainly the first guy to congratulate and give you compliments and stuff like that. I’m a little humbled with what’s happening here. Certainly, like I said, think a lot of this guy.”
While Julien was a little bashful about talking about the obviously impressive accolade, his players — especially those who have been around him for a while — were more than willing to praise their coach for his accomplishment.
“I’m sure he’s humbled by it,” Bruins captain Zdeno Chara, who actually joined the Bruins before Julien, said after the win. “He’s been around for a long time, and he’s a well-respected coach, and he’s doing a good job, so congrats to him.”
Goaltender Tuukka Rask hasn’t known another NHL coach, and he, too, was happy for the Boston bench boss.
“He’s done a great job with the team even since he’s been here,” Rask said. “I think I missed one or two years there, but knowing his methods of coaching and stuff like that, I think he deserves that. He’s done a great job.”
Next up for Julien is NHL legend Art Ross. The current Bruins coach has a ways to go before catching the Hall of Famer, though. Julien now has 246 wins as Boston’s head man, which sits him 115 behind Ross’ total of 361.