While in Prague, BostonBruins.com was able to trail Boston Bruins Head Coach Claude Julien from breakfast to the final bus. Here's some of what he said along the way...
7:46 a.m. Prague, CZE at the Team Hotel On breakfast being the most important meal in the Bruins day -- and not just for the nutrition. "Breakfast is the most important meal there is in a day, and that’s been a proven fact, especially on game days. We always had a team breakfast, mandatory, and everybody comes out and has a real good breakfast, so it’s a good way to get the team together in the morning. Making sure that we all eat well.
"We all have tendencies sometimes to get up in the morning and just grab a coffee and go from there, but now that everything is available for them, it certainly makes things a lot easier, and we can eat healthier."
Julien said that breakfast is a good time for his own staff to reconnect, as well... "Absolutely. You know, we meet in the morning. Most of the time, we’re there as soon as breakfast starts, and we get a chance to chat and get organized and, also, we leave together, go to the rink a little earlier, then the players and start getting things ready for the day."
Are the team breakfast's success something Julien is proud of? "Well, it’s not so much proud. It’s what your beliefs are, and I really believe in that fact that if you’re going to have the energy to play in this kind of game, you need to eat properly, and we can help the players by creating that environment. And we’ve done that as an organization and the players, first of all, appreciate it. They’ve got everything that they need there. They get a chance to get up and eat well and it’s gotten them in some good habits."
11:25 a.m. O2 Arena, Prague, CZE Coach Julien spoke about the primary goal for morning skate… "Well, you know, we try to get everything set for the guys for that game and, obviously, we have a game tonight, so we wanted to work on our power play, and work on that as well. And what we did is we’ve fine-tuned our neutral zone region, which we touched up again today, so that we can be comfortable with it at the game tonight. But [morning skate] it’s just about the fine-tuning our team here for the game that’s at hand that night.
"Sometimes you’ve got times where you've got to really work on a part of your game and [sometimes teams] just want to touch it up lightly in the morning, but for the most part, as the season goes on, you get those optional...morning skates.
"It’s usually just to get the goaltenders some shots and get the guys to shoot bucks and loosen up a little bit, but you don’t want to put too much [emphasis on game day skates]. You practices should be on practice days. Game days, you shouldn’t be necessarily teaching, but you should make sure your guys are getting ready for the game that night."
Julien was asked if say, a goalie, has a tough morning if it bothers him enough to change his lineup for that evening's game. "No, I don’t think I gauge my opinion on my goaltender in that morning, but if he’s having a bad morning, it certainly doesn’t make me feel very comfortable, but I’ve seen...goaltenders in the morning look very average, but that night, they’re ready to play and nothing is getting by them."
12:15 p.m. On the team bus, Prague, CZE Coach Julien had just finished speaking with the media. He talked about having to work with the media to promote the Bruins and the game of hockey, all while keeping important things close to the vest so as to not give opponents a competitive advantage... "Well, I think, you know, I had the, I don’t know what kind of baptism you want to call that...in Montreal. So, there it was a scenario where they have a minimum of 20-30 media people every day, so you kind of get used to it.
"Honestly, you get better over the years. It’s called experience, right?" Julien feels like he has improved in his dealings with the hockey press... "Yeah, I think just having to learn from that quickly and, as years go by, you get used to it. There are times when it’s a little more painful than others, but...my feeling and my approach on media has always been the same: You’ve got to be able to give them something that they can write about. That’s their job. And it’s important for you to help them do their job by at least giving them something they can write. If you go in there and you’re not giving them anything, you’re making their job pretty hard. You know, it’s a collaboration between teams and media. They give us the profile, and the give us the, oh what’s the term that you use, publicity, for our hockey club, so you kind of have to work with them in regards to that because the more press you get, the more your team is known. At the same time, it’s about being fair with those guys and, again, as long as [they're] being fair with you."
The Bruins have the reputation of being somewhat reserved in what they reveal (i.e. Julien doesn't reveal his goalie prior to game time). Julien spoke to that trait as well... "Yeah, I think it’s not so much keeping anything away from media. You’ve got to remember, the number one thing you’ve got to do is do what’s right for your hockey team and sometimes it means maybe not giving the media as much as they would like, but, as I mentioned earlier, you’re still giving them enough that they can write something. But, you’ve got to do what’s right for the team first and foremost and do what’s right and I’ve always had that approach and that motto and that will never change.
"And if it means having some people not happy with you, I can live with that because in the back of my mind, I know I’m doing what’s right for the hockey team and that’s who hires me and that’s who expects me to do the job for the players and for the team."
4:22 p.m. On the team bus to Liberec, CZE Julien talked about his thought process before games and what might be going on during a bus ride to an opponent's rink... "I'm pretty quiet, actually. It's about Just kind of getting yourself mentally prepared and thinking about all the things you want to do. Usually, the bus itself, the players on it, everybody, it’s pretty quiet and so there’s a focus [that] gets established on the bus, and then...the minute you step off that bus, it’s all business.
"It’s really not a bad way to prepare."
Julien admitted that he often has butterflies before a game... "Usually, it depends on the situation, but a lot of it is just a little bit just before the game, and then you get back behind the bench, and after that, the anthem is done and then the puck is dropped, and they’re all gone.
"But butterflies is kind of a way of being excited. And a lot of people seem to play their best games when they have their butterflies. So, it’s actually sometimes a good way of knowing that you’re well prepared because you’re not taking it lightly, and you’re excited about playing that game."
9:48 p.m. Postgame in Liberec, CZE BostonBruins.com was lucky enough to be following Coach Julien around, but even luckier that the club put together a 7-1 victory on that very day, as well... "Great way to end it, right? So it’s a real positive thing, and I don’t know the last time was that we had a 7-1 win but I’ll take it."
Julien talked about what he saw from behind the bench... "Well I think what we saw here are guys being obviously more confident and making some plays here and we scored some nice goals tonight. And, you know, they were trying to pressure us through neutral zone. I thought we did a great job at chipping pucks and getting support and all the things we talked about this week. So it was nice to see it being rewarded in a game situation...and the teams here are really ready to play us and you know we knew we were going to have a tough challenge, and they hung in there for a while and then we got a couple of goals, and it just seemed to deflate them a little bit.
"But it's a good effort and especially the way we finished. We talked about finishing strong and not worrying so much about the score board and to really think about ourselves and we did a good job of that as well."