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Fans’ reaction mixed over Claude Julien’s newest job

February 15, 2017 GMT

Shocked Bruins’ fans were looking for a whistle yesterday after learning that their home team’s longtime head coach, Claude Julien, was taking over behind the bench for their hated rivals, the Montreal Canadiens.

“I saw it on my phone and said, ‘Are you serious?’ It’s a little bit of salt in the wound,” said Kadir Tirmizey, 21, of Foxboro. “It’s like if (Red Sox manager) John Farrell went to the Yankees. It’s on that level.”

Julien, the Bruins’ all-time winningest coach, led the team to a Stanley Cup victory in 2011. He took the job with the division-leading Habs just a week after he was canned by the Bruins. As they announced Julien’s hiring, the Canadiens sent their current head coach, Michel Therrien, packing.

Brian Callahan, of Wilmington, said he’s “been waiting two years for (Julien) to leave.”

“Maybe we can beat them now?” Callahan said of the Canadiens. “He’s such a bad coach.”

And though some Bruins fans were steamed, others were complimentary of Julien’s successful tenure in the Hub.

“We won a cup. We were close to a winning a second cup, too,” said Jack Mahoney, 56, of Lexington.

Mahoney, who said he’s been a Bruins’ fan his whole life, said Julien would often stop by a Lexington barber shop, where workers called him a “gentleman.”

“He’s got to earn a living.” Mahoney said. “I’m all for it. He might have been, quote unquote, in Boston too long.”

Julien’s new job with the Canadiens comes as the Bruins are six points behind the Habs in the Atlantic Division.

And though the B’s were losing ground before Julien was fired, interim head coach Bruce Cassidy has the team riding a three-game winning streak.

“You can’t fire the team,” said Vicky Cozzolino, 49, of Beverly. “If your team isn’t performing, you have to make a change. They were sucking!”

Cozzolino, however, said she hopes Julien’s move to a despised division opponent will be the spark his former players need to get back on the right track.

“It will create reasons for them to step up and prove themselves knowing they’re not playing for him anymore,” she said.

Longtime Bruins fan Mike McGonagle, of Billerica, said he will always look back fondly on Julien’s time in Boston.

“We’re going to miss him,” McGonagle said. “When he comes back, he’s going to get a standing ovation. He got us a Stanley Cup!”