BOSTON – Bruins head coach Claude Julien has officially made his NHL bones with the Black and Gold. He’s second all-time in franchise history with 310 wins, he’s won a Stanley Cup in 2011 and he’s helped build a new winning tradition with the Original Six franchise over the last seven years.
Julien’s NHL coaching career didn’t start in Boston, though. It began with the Montreal Canadiens in 2002-03 as a midseason replacement, and continued in New Jersey where he was infamously fired by Lou Lamoriello with three games remaining in the season while coaching the Devils in 2006-07. Julien qualified for the playoffs as the No. 8 seed in 2007-08 during his first season behind the bench in Boston, and won the Jack Adams Award in 2008-09 during his second season with the B’s.
So his heart is now in Boston, but Julien also has the unique perspective of having coached both the Bruins and the Canadiens in a playoff series against the other hated Original Six rival. He understands what makes the Canadiens stick, but also was the kind of hockey coach that couldn't abide the embellishing and play-acting that can unfortunately happen to influence penalty calls at the Bell Centre.
So what kind of insight does that give Julien to the nearly century old rivalry, and the 24 playoff matches between Boston and Montreal that stand as tops for any of the four major pro sports.
“I hated Boston when I was in Montreal, and I hate Montreal now that I’m in Boston,” said Julien with a wry smile. “You know this is the kind of series where you won’t need to give the players a pep talk, but instead you’ll send a message about managing emotions.”
Clearly Boston has been the great beneficiary of Julien’s efforts as well.
The Bruins have enjoyed Stanley Cup runs in two of the last three years and qualified for the playoffs in each of the last seven seasons under Julien. Meanwhile the Habs have gone through five coaches since dismissing Julien in 2005-06, haven’t been to the Cup Final since winning way, way back in 1992-93, and have missed the playoffs altogether in two of the last eight seasons “sans” Julien.