BOSTON -- Bruins coach Claude Julien echoed the feelings of everyone in the Bruins dressing room on Monday, when he described his reaction to Patrice Bergeron being named a Selke Trophy finalist, which is annually awarded "to the forward who best excels in the defensive aspects of the game."
Julien wasn't just happy to see Bergeron nominated for the first time in his career. He was adamant that Bergeron wins the award, over David Backes and Pavel Datsyuk.
"Not only is it fitting, but I think it's very deserving," said Julien on Monday. "There's times where a coach will always support his player, and say the right things. And there's other times when you have to be honest and say, well, what's the competition like, and assess it in the best way possible. In my mind, there's no doubt that Patrice deserves this.
"The way he's played this year, the things he's done to be nominated, how good he's been defensively. He's got two young players on each side of him. He's played against top players all year long, and he's the best plus-player, probably of that group.
"Faceoff-wise, I mean, he's been utilized in every situation," added Julien. "Offensively, defensively, key situations, he's done everything to deserve that. To be honest with you, I'd be very disappointed if he didn't win that. That's how I feel."
On Wednesday, the Patriots media room was festooned with AFC Championship Game adornments. A big red backdrop behind the podium, Patriots and Steelers helmets arranged on a table facing each other with the Lamar Hunt AFC Champion Trophy in the middle.
Bill Belichick, who's not big on festoons, noted the helmets during his press conference and deadpanned, "So exciting...". That clip got some run.
On Friday, when asked to recall his first Conference Championship as a coach, he mentioned the 2001 AFC Championship Game in Pittsburgh and the fact that Belichick, Lawyer Milloy and Tom Brady were all required to fly to Pittsburgh on the Friday before the game to do media duties.
"That was awesome," Belichick snarked. Then, looking to the area where the display was on Wednesday, Belichick smiled and said, "Where's all the stuff from Wednesday? Did it get thrown out?"
He is the turd in the NFL's punch bowl and it's endlessly amusing.
FOXBORO -- During a dinner for donors at Union Station in Washington, D.C. on Thursday night, Donald Trump name-dropped Bill Belichick on two separate occasions. It marked what might've been the first time a president-elect publicly shouted out an NFL coach on the eve of his inauguration in the office's history.
Trump and Belichick have a long-standing friendship, Belichick explained back in November. Still, on Friday morning, the Patriots commander-in-chief had little reaction to his name being mentioned by Trump the night before.
"We've got a big game," Belichick said matter-of-factly.
There was little chance Belichick would utter anything else. He's still in preparation mode, still trying to out-work the Steelers in order to have his team at its best Sunday night.
It's that approach that urged Trump to mention Belichick in the first place.
"I out-worked everybody" during the election, Trump said. "I think I out-worked anyone who ever ran for office. I learned that from Belichick."
Trump also mentioned the four-time Super Bowl-winning head coach while in the process of pointing out Patriots chairman and CEO Robert Kraft during the dinner.
"In the audience we have somebody that's under no pressure whatsoever because he's got a great quarterback named Tom Brady and a great coach named Belichick: Bob Kraft," Trump said. "Good luck, Bob."