The Team Behind the Team is in Place
Wednesday, 08.1.2007 / 1:54 PM ET / Bish's Blog
By John Bishop - BostonBruins.com
"Obviously I am going to (further) define their roles…as we go along," explained Julien via phone from his home in Ottawa. "But right now, what I have done with Craig Ramsay is to assign him to take care of defenseman…he's a guy with lots of experience in that department.
"Geoff Ward is a guy that I've coached with for a couple of years, in Hamilton and with Team Canada in international competition. He's a guy who knows me well and we read off of each other extremely well. So he will be working the bench with us, dealing with the forwards and (communicating) with Doug Houda.
"(Houda) is going to be the eye in the sky for us and will be overlooking things (from the press box). Doug will have the roll of helping us out from up top and letting us know about certain adjustments we need to make during the game and he'll also be looking at the players…and seeing different areas we can work on individually," he said.
Ramsay arrives in Boston after coaching seven years with Tampa Bay and has a distinguished NHL resume as a player.
While with the Lightning he served as the team's Associate Head Coach and helped lead the Lightning to four consecutive Stanley Cup Playoff appearances, two Southeast Division titles, and a Stanley Cup Championship in 2004.
Before being hired by Tampa Bay during the 2000-2001 season, Ramsay spent eight seasons in NHL coaching and management with Buffalo, Florida, Ottawa, and Philadelphia.
A native of Weston, Ontario, Ramsay played his junior hockey with the legendary Peterborough Petes of the OHL and played NHL hockey from 1971-1985 with the Buffalo Sabres.
In 1,070 career NHL games with Buffalo, Ramsay scored 252 goals and recorded 420 assists. And as a testament to his defensive prowess, won the Frank J. Selke Trophy (best defensive forward) in 1985.
Ward comes to Boston after spending the 2006-2007 season in Germany as the head coach of the Iserlohn Roosters of the German league. Previously, Ward had spent five campaigns in the Edmonton organization, where, beginning in January 2001, he coached in the American Hockey League.
"I had worked with him (previously)," said Julien of Ward. "I think it's important, especially this year, that (our) transition is made quickly -- in order for us to turn things around.
"And I wanted to make sure I was comfortable."
Indeed, Julien and Ward are quite familiar with each other and that should lead to a nice comfort zone behind the Bruins bench. While with the Oilers, Ward served as Julien's assistant coach for the AHL's Hamilton Bulldog's when the squad worked its way to the AHL's Calder Cup semi-finals in 2002.
Furthermore, Ward actually took over for Julien as head coach during the 2002-2003 campaign when the Montreal Canadiens hired Claude and later that season the Bulldogs went to the AHL finals.
As such, the two Hamilton head coaches were co-winners of the American Hockey League's Louis A. R. Pieri Memorial Award, given annually to the league's coach of the year.
Beyond Ramsay and Ward, while he made the announcement about his new staff members, Julien praised the men who were present previously and implied that Houda and Essensa, having been with the B's last season, will be a valuable resource to each member of the new staff.
"Chatting with Doug Houda at the Development Camp, he obviously has a good feel for what the team is all about, having been around last year," said Julien. "With Bob Essensa, it's the same thing.
"I think (Bob) did a great job (when) I watched him work with the goaltenders."
Julien believes that the groundwork has been laid for a successful B's turnaround.
"When you come into a new organization, it's important that you feel comfortable with the people around you and that the transition is going to be as smooth as possible (so that the team) is able to make some strides early on," he said.
And Julien was clearly saying that the new arrivals, coupled with the coaches who had worn Black & Gold last season, have put the Bruins in good stead for the future.
"I have a staff I am very comfortable with," said Julien.