Claude Julien returns to Boston for the first time since being dismissed as Bruins head coach on Wednesday. He's behind the bench for the Montreal Canadiens, but that doesn't mean he won't get a warm reception at TD Garden.
For whatever reason, 98.5 The Sports Hub's Fred Toucher believes a lot of Bruins fans will boo Julien when he receives his video tribute at the Garden. Besides perhaps a handful of drunken idiots, boos simply won't happen.
It doesn't matter that he now coaches the Bruins' longtime rival. You can expect a standing ovation for Julien, the only Bruins head coach to win a Stanley Cup in the last 45 years.
When asked about expectations for the fan reaction to Claude's return, Bruins players didn't seem to care much about it. But they certainly don't think he'll be booed.
"He did great things for us and this organization so he deserves a warm welcome," said Tuukka Rask, who added that it's still just another game for the B's.
"Not sure what the plan is, but he definitely deserves [a video tribute]," said captain Zdeno Chara.
"I'm not really looking forward to it but I'm sure he is," said winger Brad Marchand. "That doesn't really have anything to do with me. But yeah, I'm sure he's excited to come back and he deserves that video. And I'm sure a lot of people will be excited to see him again. I'm sure it'll be a memorable game."
Claude Julien: In His Own Words
Julien spoke at length with NHL.com's Dave Stubbs on his return to Boston and history with both the Bruins and Canadiens. He said he hasn't spoken with anyone on the B's or the TD Garden staff about what's planned for him in terms of a tribute.
"I haven't been asked or told, and I'm not expecting anything," said Julien. "If there is anything, so be it. It will be important for me at that point, especially looking at our place in the standings, that I'm ready to coach."
He also acknowledged the special relationships that remain intact. He still highly respects the Bruins' core players from 2011, including Chara, Marchand, Patrice Bergeron, and others.
"When you've gone through what you have with those guys and accomplished so much, there's more than just a coach-player relationship. That bond that exists will always exist," said Julien. "I have so much respect for those guys, what they accomplished, what they went through to get there, what they did for me as a coach. You don't have success as a coach if you don't have the support of your players and have your core group believing in what you're doing."
Bruins-Canadiens: More To Know
-- As big as the return of Claude Julien is, Wednesday night also marks Willie O'Ree Night at the Garden. The former winger famously broke the NHL's color barrier 60 years ago, on Jan. 18, 1958. That game also came against the Canadiens. O'Ree continues to involve himself in local youth hockey programs and initiatives in Massachusetts.
-- Jake DeBrusk and Kevan Miller both missed Bruins practice on Tuesday due to illnesses. Noel Acciari (upper body) also missed practice. But both DeBrusk and Acciari skated at Warrior Ice Arena on Wednesday morning. However, Miller did not skate. This could be an opportunity for defenseman Adam McQuaid to finally return to the lineup from a broken leg.
-- Zdeno Chara spoke highly of 20-year-old defenseman Charlie McAvoy on Tuesday. He doesn't need to do much with the rookie in terms of mentoring.
"With Charlie, you don't have to really [teach] that much. He's a great player," said Chara. "He does a lot of things well out there. There are certain situations that we talk about and a few things I like to talk about to make him better, but to be honest with you he does so well that I just want to let him play and be his own man."
More On Claude Julien...
-- Brad Marchand credited Julien for making him a more consistent player at the NHL level.
"I learned a lot [from Julien]," said Marchand. "You could go through a lot of different things, but I think the biggest thing he preached to me was how to be a good pro and how to be consistent. That's one thing he talked about a lot was consistency. And if you want to be in the league a long time, you gotta be able to play your best game every night, or close to it. So that was probably one of the biggest things I took away."
-- Claude Julien's replacement as Bruins head coach, Bruce Cassidy, also expects an emotional return for the ex-coach.
"They won a Stanley Cup under Claude, there should be [emotion]," said Cassidy. "I think there was a bit of that in Montreal, in terms of the first time looking across the bench and seeing him behind a different group. I imagine there will be a little more tomorrow, then the game will kind of take care of itself and off we go.
"There's some great relationships developed between Claude and ... the guys that played under him for a length of time. You don't forget about that."
-- By Matt Dolloff, 985TheSportsHub.com
Matt Dolloff is a digital producer for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Have a news tip, question, or comment for Matt? Follow him on Twitter @mattdolloff or email him at [email protected].