Julien balancing B's, Olympics coaching duties

Julien balancing B's, Olympics coaching duties
December 2, 2013, 8:15 pm
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While most of this season has been the standard fare for Bruins coach Claude Julien, there is one new item on his plate as an NHL bench boss with little spare time to begin with.

Julien will be an assistant coach on Team Canada coach Mike Babcock’s staff, and that means the B’s coach is a little more of an active observer to the action around the rest of the NHL this season. He’s watching potential bubble players on the roster, and the versatility of other players that might be asked to serve different roles on the star-studded team in Sochi, Russia.

There have been a few more phone calls and some longer conversations with a guy like Babcock when the B’s and Red Wings cross paths, but it’s largely been about giving the remote control a workout.

“[Last Friday] I spent a lot of time watching games. Certain guys that maybe you thought that are on the bubble, and they’re [under] consideration . . . stuff like that. You watch some of those games so that when the time comes to have a conversation, you can have your share of say, or give your opinion, or whatever,” said Julien. “So that’s what I do in my spare time. But like anything else, you learn to manage your time in a way where all my focus for today is on our team.

“[The Olympics preparation] is when the [Bruins] game is over, and a lot of late games and so on so forth. It’s great when you play afternoon games because you can watch the night games and on your days off . . . that’s when I do the other kind of stuff. It doesn’t hurt either for our team because you get to know not just the player, but the teams themselves. So I’m scouting for two different reasons.”

What puts Julien in an interesting position as a Team Canada official is a number of potential Bruins players vying for roster spots. Milan Lucic, Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand were all participants in the Team Canada orientation camp in Calgary last summer, and started the season on the radar for the Olympic team. Bergeron is a lock after winning Gold with Team Canada four years ago and Lucic is off to one of the best starts of his career.

Marchand, on the other hand, looks like a player that isn’t likely to still be under consideration given his sluggish start to the season. Julien is prepared for all of those questions even though he is just one of many voices in the room making the roster decisions at the end of the day.

“When it’s all said and done, you know there’s going to be opinions of, ‘Why isn’t he on, why isn’t that on?’ That’s part of the process and you live with it,” said Julien. “When you win, it’s not an issue, when you lose you have to face those question marks, right?”

Given Canada’s longstanding success in the Olympics, there are many years when it’s never an issue at all no matter the NHL situation taking place alongside it.