This is what happens when you are currently in last place in a four-team race.

You act like you are in last place.

Much has been made of the Boston Bruins’ decision to hold a major, franchise-changing press conference while a million people were going wild only a half-mile away at Government Center.

The Bruins have nothing on the former Massachusetts State Senate President Bill Bulger, who was a master of releasing bad news when most people were drinking on Friday nights.

But this isn’t about the Bruins’ bad optics. The franchise, which appeared to be on Patriots-like solid ground only three years ago, is back to its old tricks – in turmoil.

This is about collateral damage, aka the former Bruins head coach, Claude Julien.

The Bruins didn’t have to do it this way, in the middle of a celebratory parade. Firing Julien was expected. That’s what happens to NHL coaches more often than in any other sport.

The team was stale. The players weren’t listening. And as Theo Epstein said, when the Bruins were great, “10 years is a long time. Sometimes you need a change.”

Among the things Bruins General Manager Don Sweeney said at the press conference was this: “We know Claude will get a job. … He’s a good coach.”

Yup. He is. Julien will get a few months to recharge his batteries and multiple offers will come his way.

Good, though, might not be strong enough. He leaves Boston as its winningest coach – 419-246 with 97 overtime/shootout losses, surpassing the legendary Art Ross.

But his best work was as part of the rebuilding process – with former general manager Peter Chiarelli, who hired him – which was by no means overnight. Hired in 2007, the Bruins were on a 12-year run in which they missed the playoffs five times and won only one playoff series.

Julien’s first three years were steppingstones, losing to the Canadiens in seven games in Year 1, winning one series in each of the next two years before guiding the Bruins to their first Stanley Cup since 1972.

It wasn’t just that they won, but the way they did – with defense, grit, a scorching hot goalie and, well, more grit. The Bruins beat the snot out of Vancouver, which was by far the most talented team that year.

Julien doesn’t fit our mold. We adore Type-A personalities who aren’t afraid to throw sticks on the ice when they don’t get their way (see Harry Sinden, Don Cherry, Mike Milbury, etc.).

Julien was nothing of the sort. While he was’t afraid to curse out a referee, he’s usually apologizing afterward.

He talked about “respecting the game” and had a disdain for flopping on the ice. When a Bruin did it, he said it was wrong.

Basically, a good, honest guy.

About 11 months ago, when there was talk about Julien being fired, Bruins legend Bobby Orr stepped up, calling Julien one of the best coaches in the NHL, period.

“I didn’t really know Claude before he came here,” said Orr. “I ended up chatting with him a few times. I like his style. His teams are very disciplined. I don’t know why people would question Claude. Look at the Bruins’ performance since he arrived. Look at the respect he gets from his players. They play hard for him. That’s how you measure a coach.”

The Bruins have had their issues above Julien, with Chiarelli missing on a few guys and trading away Tyler Seguin, and that dip hasn’t really improved much since Don Sweeney took over in May of 2015.

Something had to be done.

The Bruins have looked bad too many times this season. While there have been a few bright spots, including David Pastrnak and Brad Marchand, others haven’t brought their “A” games often enough.

The Bruins needed some changes. And the coach is usually the first to go.

Bruce Cassidy, who was very successful in Providence before being added to the Bruins bench as an assistant, will get a shot as the interim coach. Maybe he will inject some life into this strange team, which at times has looked like it could go deep into the spring.

With Chiarelli long gone, Julien has been on borrowed time. His emphasis on defense never sat well with his bosses, who almost demanded he focus more on goal production. But offense, he always argued, was usually a product of good defense.

He won a lot of games, helped win a Stanley Cup and almost won another in 2013, losing in six games to the Blackhawks.

Julien deserves a first-class goodbye. And don’t feel bad for him. His record of achievement – including making Jeremy Jacobs appear to be a good owner for a few years – will land him somewhere soon.

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