How did he divine his fate and know that he had topped San Jose's Todd McLellan and Andy Murray of the St. Louis Blues for the NHL's Coach of the Year Award?
Pat Burns, the award presenter and a three-time winner of the award, gave it away when he said the winner was his "mon ami."
"That tipped it off," Julien said Thursday night after accepting the award at the Pearl Concert Theater.
Julien and Burns are notably close, even among the tight-knit NHL coaching fraternity. Both have traveled a similar coaching road, starting with the Hull Olympiques in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. Then each coached in the American Hockey League with the farm team of the Montreal Canadiens.
In the NHL, both coached in Montreal, New Jersey and Boston. Burns also coached in Toronto, the one NHL city in which Julien has not coached. Burns won Jack Adams trophies in Boston, Toronto and Montreal and won the Stanley Cup with New Jersey.
"I've been following him around," Julien told NHL.com. "I still have a stop to make, which is winning the Stanley Cup that Pat won."
Julien clearly was moved when he received the award.
"What an honor, mostly because I received it from you, Pat," Julien said, emotion bubbling through his voice.
"It's been quite a roller-coaster ride," Sullivan told NHL.com. "There were not many highs and a lot of lows."
Sullivan said it took a week to 10 days before he felt fearless again out on the ice. A serious back injury might stop a lot of other people and even NHL players from coming back.
"All those negative thought processes went out the window after the week to 10 days," he said. "I feel like I am moving as well as ever."
Sullivan, 34, finished the season with 11 goals and 21 assists for 32 points in 41 games. He played near point-per-game hockey over the last month.
FAN FAV LUONGO -- Vancouver's Roberto Luongo is one of the NHL's biggest stars. We knew that already, right Canucks fans? But now it's crystal clear that the top-tier goalie is beloved by a wide swatch of NHL fans. He won the inaugural Scotiabank NHL Fan Fav award Thursday night.
"It's been a tough season with my first major injury," Luongo said to NHL.com. "I am especially honored the fans still voted for me."
Luongo, who just finished his fourth consecutive season of 33 or more wins, emerged from a multi-stage selection process that included selection of weekly winners during CBC's Hockey Night in Canada telecasts via balloting at NHL.com. A panel of NHL experts narrowed the weekly winners list to 10 and fans voted for the grand winner on NHL.com. Fan and contest winner Anthony Cruz was a co-presenter of the award with San Jose Sharks center Jeremy Roenick.
Reporters at a midday reception of nominees asked Luongo about how free agency might affect the Canucks -- and his potential signing of any long-term contract.
"We'll see what happens with the [Sedin] twins," Luongo said. "It's too early for me to talk about a deal. We'll have to see who comes back and decide after that. I know the Canucks management wants a winner."