BOSTON – If you look back at the archives, even months after the New York Yankees blew a 3-0 lead to the Red Sox in the fall of 2004, then-Yankees manager Joe Torre was lamenting the nightmares he was still having about his team’s epic collapse.
For Torre, life went on. He stuck with the Yankees a few more years and then moved on to Los Angeles. For all intents and purposes, it looks like Bruins head coach Claude Julien is going to get the opportunity to move on and help the franchise erase the memories of its colossal choke against Philadelphia.
Julien sat at the podium for a press conference with general manager Peter Chiarelli on the team’s breakup day today at TD Garden. It’s unlikely that Chiarelli would subject Julien to that if he had any intensions other than to bring back the 2009 Jack Adams Award winner for a fourth season at the helm.
So with that in mind, Julien’s ready to get back to work with 2010-11 at the front of his mind.
“Well, there’s no doubt we have to live with this,” said Julien. “No matter what we say, we have to live with this. It happened but at the same time, I’m going to tell you that I have to start preparing for next year. And it can’t start soon enough. I’d love to turn the page and move on here and move on to better things. … [We’re] not feeling sorry for ourselves because we were the ones that let it happen.
“So you deal with it and this is what sports is all about. It’s about being tough, going through those kind of situations, and then more or less preparing to move forward here. And that’s my thinking right now – I can’t wait for next season to start. It’s simple as that.”
For a coach, turning the page might be easier than for the players who were responsible for Boston blowing both a 3-0 lead in the series and in Game 7 against the Flyers. A date with the archrival Montreal Canadiens waited in the wings.
“For now, I think it hurt even more this year than last year,” said alternate captain Patrice Bergeron, who has now seen his season end in one-goal Game 7 defeats two straight years. “Just the way thing unfolded at the end there and the way we could’ve made it to the conference finals and play Montreal, which is a good team, but I think anything could’ve happened.”
Said defenseman Matt Hunwick: “I think it will definitely stick with me. It still creeps into your thoughts and it’s disappointing and at the same time you think of what could’ve been and the opportunity that we missed out on. That’s the toughest part.”
Should the Bruins choose to do so, they could use the ’10 collapse as a motivator that makes them even better ’11.
“You’ve got to try to find positives, but it’s pretty hard,” said defenseman Dennis Wideman. “Something like that, I don’t think you’ll ever forget. Next year, we’ve got to get over this frustration and not let that happen again.”
The Bruins can take solace that they’re not the first team to lose in historic fashion, and they won’t be the last. They can just look at Torre for inspiration to land on their feet and move forward.