ROCKLAND, Ontario -- It's not unusual for the Bruins to have plenty of spectators when they practice, but it's unusual for Head Coach Claude Julien and the Black & Gold to be teaching school when then hold an on-ice session.
But today's practice was required class time for student-athletes at the Canadian International Hockey Academy.
"I think the owner that started this [school] talked to Peter [Chiarelli] at some point this summer and asked if we'd be interested When they opened up," said Julien of the facility in Rockland, Ontario, a suburb of Ottawa. "I was asked to be the honorary president and I thought maybe in my area that was an honor to be asked."
The CIH is a unique school which combines college-prep classes, which are integrated into a full hockey curriculum.
"They've done a really good job of getting this thing going in the right direction," said Julien. "Obviously they've done a great job and they've done a lot of research into how to build this place because the facility is outstanding.
"It's going to be a great place for young students who aspire to get better and then hockey as well, to come here and enjoy their time here."
Given the reception by the students, who greeted the B's with applause as they entered the rink, as well as the numerous rounds of cheers and applause during practice, it's a sure bet that the B's enjoyed their time in Ottawa and at CIH.
"We had an opportunity to come here and we were in Ottawa and then Philadelphia tomorrow," said Julien. "We thought it might be a good thing.
"We haven't been on the road much, so we gave our guys to spend a little bit of time [together] and this time of year, as you know, guys when they're on the road get a chance to do their Christmas shopping, so it covered a lot of things.
"We had a great practice today and I thought our guys were sharp and looking forward to tomorrow's game."
But before the B's left for Pennsylvania, the students at CIH had some one-on-one time with the Bruins, who joined them in the cafeteria for lunch.
"We've got a couple of players at each table there to chat and sit and eat with those students," said Julien. "I think it's a great privilege for them to be able to do that.
"I know that at a younger age, you idolize your NHL players - such as I did [and] it would have been nice to have had that opportunity.
"Our players are so good at that," added the coach. "They're very open minded and really enjoy doing those kinds of things."