GM Lou Lamoriello made the switch today. "I just didn't feel we were playing with the confidence we needed to go forward, despite what our record is, and that's all I'll say about that," said Lamoriello, who will move from the front office to the bench for the second time in as many seasons.
Confidence generally suffers on a team that loses its captain, top goal scorer and top grinder. All are now back from recent injuries.
In 2000, the Devils also fired Robbie Ftorek late in the year. Larry Robinson then stepped up and led the Devils to the Stanley Cup. Lamoriello set aside the Devils great record that year too, though the Ftorek firing happened during a slump - the Devils had lost 6 of their last 10 games. Julien got the axe after winning 4 of his last 5.
If the Devils are eliminated in round one or two, Lamoriello will look very bad. He will appear to have tried to fix something that ain’t broke. People will wonder how the Devils might have done had Julien not been blindsided in the midst of a great season. They’ll even suggest the Devils won the Cup in 2000 despite the Ftorek firing not because of it.
But for now, as crazy as the move seems, you have to put faith in Lou’s ability to read his team’s playoff readiness. 3 Stanley Cups, particularly the one in 2000, earn you that trust.