Claude Julien Reacts To Hiring In Montreal
Fresh off his firing from the Boston Bruins just over a week ago, longtime NHL coach Claude Julien was rather confident, however, impatient to get things going again as many knew he would and do so in a timely manner.
That to be said, when Montreal Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin gave him the call to let him know of his new appointment, Julien could not have been any more satisfied, returning for his second go around with the historic franchise.
TSN Hockey Insider Pierre LeBrun reported on Tuesday that the Habs requested permission from the Bruins front office on Sunday to speak with Julien regarding his new oppurtunity which will now have him locked for the next five seasons for a total value of $25 million.
As noted by LeBrun, two other teams had been in the mix for the 56-year-old’s coaching services, the two likely being the Vegas Golden Knights and the Florida Panthers, both who continue to seek permenant solutions for the seasons to come, and so Montreal knew they had to act fast and did just that, putting their future in the best hands possible.
As far as his second intoduction to the city they call “Hockeytown” goes, Julien was welcomed by more than 1,000 fans on the main concourse of the Bell Sports Complex where they saw Following Friday’s practice at the team facility in Brossard, QC, Julien spoke to the media and said, “I got an opportunity to come coach a team that plays in an incredible hockey city.”
When talking about what drew his return, Julien said, “I never lied about it when I came here: I was a childhood Montreal Canadiens fan. Unfortunately, with different jobs, I had to get away from it for a little bit. But I’m back into it again.”
This is not the first time Julien will have been associated with this organization. Looking back at the 2003 season, the new head coach was brought aboard for the very first time in replacement of Michel Therrien who’s team was suffering in similar ways in which could be seen before parting ways for a second time just one week ago.
When asked about how making a similar transition feels doing so a second time, Julien said it felt more like he left his slippers in the hallway and now he was stepping back into them.
Amongst mant reporters seeking his input, Jonathan Bernier of Le Journal De Montreal inquired with regards to his old track suit, asking if he had kept the same one from his last management stint with the Canadiens eleven years ago, however, Julien was honest and jokingly said “I kept it, but it’s too tight.”
Julien was asked about his daily routine where he admitted that he hasn’t slept much recently, which was followed by a quote saying, ‘sleep when you’re dead,’ which he has recently gained belief in, commenting, “I can do that”, all because of how much has been going on in over the course of the past seven days. “There weren’t enough hours in the day.”
As noted by Frank Seravalli of TSN, Julien is said to have driven to the club’s practice facility with a list full of things to take care of right off the bat, as he looks to change the dynamic enforced by Therrien.
While speaking out about the conditions of his players, Julien said, “Guys had to go on the ice today feeling good about themselves. I made sure that happened. Guys want hope. Guys want positive messages. It’s easy for a new coach to give those positive messages.”
After the session came to a conclusion, the media had gathered around goaltender Carey Price who explained the change in a different perspective. “It kind of felt like a new season. I don’t think the guys were playing with a lot of confidence. Maybe overthinking the game too much.”
Team captain Max Pacioretty was next to the stand where he spoke on the club’s behalf, saying, “This was a fresh start — for everyone.”
When Greg Pateryn was asked to speak, it was rather clear that he was relieved with a change of management as he felt with Therrien as if he had “someone breathing down my neck all the time.” In a separate statement, the 26-year-old defensemen said, “Sometimes, this is what you need, even if you are a guy that’s in there every night and playing a lot. It’s a new set of eyes to take a look at me. Sometimes you just need a new face, a fresh face. It’s beneficial for everyone, not just one or two guys.”
Since this crucial change was put into effect, much of the talk has been circled around Alex Galchenyuk who is looking to rise under a new set of hands, given his entire career has been under Therrien’s watch. Julien immediately bumped the 23-year-old centremen to the front line, alongside Pacioretty and Alexander Radulov, where he has not seen much time since the season’s beginning. In spite of this, Galchenyuk had recorded 23 points in a total of 25 games played prior to being placed on the IR with an ankle injury.
Coming towards Therrien’s final weeks of duties, the performance of Price started to fall, as well as Galchenyuk who was moved to wing, not to mention Shea Weber who has not been as sharp, just to name a few in a slump.
When asked how he plans on working with his coaches, Julien said he will rely on them to get him up to speed, as his own process of evaluation is currently in the works.
Elaborating further on what he plans to get players up to higher levels of work, Julien said, “I’m going to give individuals real good opportunities because I think that’s the right thing to do for the team. I’m new here, I’m not going to hide that. I’d like to try things that I think are going to work. If they don’t, I’ll make changes.”
This all to be said, it would be seen as a huge success to see Galchenyuk back on the rise, giving Pacioretty a much needed rest as he continues to display consistent production while keeping their rank in the league at first.
As seen around him, the attack would consist of Philip Danault and Tomas Plekanec, who look forward to keeping things intact up the middle while on the club’s third line.
Amongst those overworked, Price, who took a much-needed vacation over the NHL’s mandated bye-week, has hit the ice on a regular basis, each and everyday since the start of September, as it includes his involvement in the World Cup of Hockey. Since the start of the 2016–17 season, the veteran netminder has played in 43 of the Habs first 58 games.
For those who were perahps curious about his getaway, Price said to the media, “I didn’t think about hockey. When I heard the news, I just put it in my back pocket.”
Pacioretty, who was amongst 3 players to participate in a small practice with Adam Oates on Thursday, said that Friday’s turnout while hitting the ice was a reminder of why they enjoy playing the game.
While zamboni troubles delayed the team’s afternoon workout, Julien had taken the time to speak one-on-one with every each Habs player, just for a brief chat to get them all in the new light.
Julien wants to make it as clear as possible that a new head coach means things will be different, therefore, bringing that to the team’s immediate attention. “I wanted them to know how good I think the team is. We’re in first place. There’s no need to panic. There’s a need to fix. We’re going to fix things so we get back on the right track. We’re going to start winning again.”
Things will start to look up for a failing Montreal club, who’s coaching dynamic will look to make change, however, it will take some time to get back to their ways, as a playoff push remains the number one thought.