WILMINGTON Claude Julien was feeling confident and even a little comical the day before a Game 7 that could decide the fate of his hockey season. He couldnt resist when asked a question about the traditional handshakes on the ice after a playoff series has ended.
Its a Stanley Cup playoff tradition that the two teams put aside the hate, the animosity, the cheap shots and the head shots when a series has been clinched. Nearly everyone takes to the ice to say good job to the opposition, win or lose.
So the Bruins coach was asked his thoughts about the handshake prior to Game 7, and the instant smirk revealed that a punch line was coming.
I plan on being the happy one tomorrow, Julien said with the confidence of a coach thats won three straight Game 7 do-or-die matches and five straight elimination games behind the Boston bench.
But, as Julien often does, he took the time to answer the question with some thought and perspective. There is something to be said for playoff hockey as the only one of the major four sports that lines players up for handshakes at the end of each playoff round.
"It all depends on the series," Julien said. "There is animosity, but as the same time there comes a time when you have to put those things aside and congratulate the team for their good effort and moving forward. Thats what Im hoping happens to our team tomorrow."
Milan Lucic has been involved with his share of hockey hate over the years, and he appreciates what the gesture represents.
It is hard. But I think its one of the things that gets overlooked in this sport, said Lucic. There is a respect for your opponent and for everyone to man up and shake your opponents hand. It goes to show that theres a lot of class in this game.
Win, lose or draw there shouldnt be too many issues with the Bruins and Capitals conducting their postgame handshakes whether its Boston or Washington that finds itself advancing after Wednesdays Game 7 tilt.
After all, if Patrice Bergeron can shake the hand of Alex Burrows after last years Stanley Cup Finals without worrying about the hungry Canucks forward taking a nibble, then everybody else should be ready to join in as well.