BUFFALO, N.Y. _ Boston Bruins rookie general manager Don Sweeney said Friday that coach Claude Julien will stay on for a ninth season.
The decision ends nearly two months of uncertainty over Julien’s future after the Bruins underwent a front-office shake up this spring.
Sweeney replaced Peter Chiarelli in April. Chiarelli was fired after the Bruins missed the playoffs for the first time in eight years.
The finish was disappointing for a high-priced team that won the Stanley Cup in 2011 and lost to Chicago in the final in 2013.
Sweeney spoke at a hotel in downtown Buffalo, where he and his staff are attending the NHL’s pre-draft scouting combine that concludes Saturday.
Julien has 351-192-79 record with Boston, and has a 470-278-10-102 career record that includes his previous stints in Montreal and New Jersey.
He now has the longest active tenure with a single team among NHL coaches, after Mike Babcock left Detroit to coach the Toronto Maple Leafs last month.
Sweeney met with Julien last month, but would not commit to retaining him at the time.
“I think tremendously of him as a coach and as a person,” Sweeney had said. “It’s just a matter of lining up things that I believe in.”
Sweeney was running out of time and options if he intended to change coaches, with the NHL draft only three weeks away and the free-agency period opening on July 1.
Many of the top established candidates were taken off the market by teams filling their vacancies the past few weeks. Aside from Babcock, the Buffalo hired Dan Bylsma, Edmonton hired Todd McLellan and San Jose chose Peter DeBoer.
The Bruins were eliminated on the final day of the regular season, and finished ninth in the Eastern Conference standings, one spot out of the playoffs.
The Bruins (41-27-14) were undone by a rash of injuries and an aging roster last season. The team also had difficulty making roster changes as a result of a payroll that nudged against the salary cap. Rather than adding talent, Boston was forced to free up space by trading key defenceman Johnny Boychuk to the New York Islanders before the start of the season.