NHL.com's weekly Q&A feature called "Five Questions With …" runs every Tuesday. We talk to key figures in the game today and ask them questions to gain insight into their lives, careers and the latest news.
NEW YORK -- Claude Julien looks as energized as he says he feels since returning from the 2014 Sochi Olympics.
The Boston Bruins coach is moving fast, talking fast, smiling and laughing. If there was a trampoline nearby you'd think Julien would get on it and jump for hours.
Julien helped Canada win the gold medal last month as an associate coach on Mike Babcock's staff. He has called it an experience of a lifetime.
He went to Russia curious and nervous, thinking he'd be mentally and physically drained by the time he returned home. On the contrary, Julien got back to Boston last week feeling fresh and excited to lead the Bruins on another deep run in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Julien spoke to NHL.com prior to Boston's 6-3 win Sunday against the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden. He covered everything from his Olympic experience to coaching Jarome Iginla and the Bruins' young defense that for now the team is relying on heavily.
Here are Five Questions with … Claude Julien:
What is your takeaway from the entire Olympic experience?
"Awesome. It was an awesome experience. Just the Olympics itself, being around those types of players, creating a team, being around the coaches -- we're talking about some pretty elite coaches that were there, and you learn a lot just from little discussions. There are different ideas, all good, and you just grow from that. There are a lot of positives to take from that tournament.
"To me it was a great opportunity also to get to know those kinds of players on a personal note. You're used to playing against them. You see them as players, but you know, we had an unbelievable group of guys. You'd go to the cafeteria, meet some of your guys that were with other players, and it just seemed like a real nice environment to talk to people from different countries. Even different athletes, we had a good time doing that and I think it was a great change of pace from our regular schedule."
I can ask you this now: Can you compare being on the bench when your team wins the gold medal to being on the bench when your team wins the Stanley Cup?
"Well, as you grow up you dreamed of winning the Stanley Cup; I don't think I ever grew up thinking I was going to win a gold medal at the Olympics. But I tell you what, it's still pretty good. You've gotta put it up there as an accomplishment, and something you just never thought about accomplishing. It's just an unbelievable feat, and I'm really proud to have had that opportunity but even prouder to win."
So now you come back and you go from the high of preparing for what was essentially three straight Game 7s to the grind of the NHL season. What is it like for you, for a coach, to come back into this now?
"It's actually been pretty good. The fact is we won gold over there, it was exciting, so I came back with a lot of energy and excitement. Would I be saying that had we not won the gold? I don't know because I didn't get to that stage. But I really feel good. You feel like you want to bring that enthusiasm to your team right now. I feel great. As far as my energy is concerned it's great. The biggest challenge for all of us that were over there is we now end up going to bed pretty early. We're tired by 8 o'clock. But at the same time you wake up the next day energized and you're ready to go again.
"The great thing about being over there is we were walking everywhere. Here you jump on the bus, get off the plane, jump on another bus. Over there we were walking 4-6 miles a day. From our house to the cafeteria was 2.5 kilometers there and back. We did that a couple of times a day, walked to the rink, walked to Canada House. It felt good. I thought it was a good experience."
We know a lot about Jarome Iginla from just watching him. What are some of the things that you can only know about Iginla if you coach him?
"I don't know if there is much left about him that's a mystery or unknown. Everybody knows he's a great person, a great team guy. For a coach that coached against him every once in a while, what I see is a guy who has a great work ethic. People are talking about his age, but I see a guy who puts it all out there every night on the ice. He's got a great work ethic, he's in great shape. He may not be a rah-rah type of guy, but he's the type of guy that when he speaks, players listen.
"He's been a great acquisition because we put a lot of emphasis on our team chemistry, how guys get along, and he's fit in just tremendously. He puts his ego aside. He doesn't need a letter. He just wants to be a part of it and he just leads in his own way. It's nothing surprising, but you get a better appreciation of the individual when you have him in your room and you spend time with him every day."
With Dougie Hamilton, Torey Krug and Matt Bartkowski you have three young guys on defense that have to play a big role, and they have been part of it before. They were part of your group last year in the playoffs, so does that raise your level of confidence in them because they know what the playoff grind is all about now?
"I think Torey really relishes those kinds of challenges. He usually comes up big in those kinds of situations. Matt Bartkowski is just gaining more and more confidence. He's such a good skater. He skates the puck out of our own end so well. Right now it's about continuing to work with those guys more on the defensive end, about battling along the walls, being in good position. That's any young defenseman's challenge right now, but as you can see since from the time [Dennis] Seidenberg got hurt, our record hasn't been hurt."