|Boston Bruins coach Claude Julien hoists the Stanley Cup after the Bruins defeated the Vancouver Canucks in Game 7 of the NHL hockey Stanley Cup Finals on Wednesday, June 15, 2011, in Vancouver, British Columbia. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Darryl Dyck) |
For the Bruins that man in Claude Julien, and while his players celebrate their accomplishment, he's happy to remain in the background.
“I’ve been through these situations before and the best way is always to stand back and watch everybody else enjoy it and enjoy it through their eyes,” Julien said after the game.
Julien led his players through the ups and downs of the 100-game-plus season. He led his team back from two 2-0 series deficits and won three Game 7s. Julien withstood the criticism along the way and kept the team that he knows from the very core, together as a group, performing as a single unit.
“As a coach, you understand that you are going to be subject to criticism, but the most important thing is what is going on inside that dressing room and there wasn’t a guy who didn’t believe in what we were doing,” the B’s coach said.
“So had I worried about that other stuff, I probably wouldn’t be standing here today.”
Wednesday's game was the biggest of Julien’s career, but he approached it just like any other. Sixty-minutes. A sixty-minute effort was all he asked of his players. And for a coach who knows how to relate to his players, and is always open and honest with them, what Julien wanted was what the Bruins gave him.
“I know that before we went out for the third period, everybody in there was telling each other that there was no way in the world that we could even let up for a second and that we had to play a full sixty minutes,” he said.
“And that’s been our team for these playoffs, a sixty-minute effort because they’ve heard me say it all year.”
The road has been a long one for the B’s, and just in this series, they’ve had to endure a devastating injury to their biggest-game player, Nathan Horton
, trash-talking from the opponent, not to mention the cross continent flights with a three hour time change mixed in.
But last night, in a night where everything was one the line and the Stanley Cup Championship was on the line, the Bruins came out with their best, grittiest, more heartfelt effort of the series.
But for that, Julien is giving all the credit to his players.
“A lot of things that happened in our dressing room were from the players’ ideas. We did a couple of things as coaches but, as we mentioned before game seven against Tampa, some of the guys, [Mark] Recchi and [Shawn] Thornton brought their rings in, they put some pictures up and they decorated the room and they really took charge of those things,” Julien said.
One of those things the leaders of the dressing room took in their hands, was getting Horton to Vancouver, and making him a part of the game-day preparations as he had been all season. Horton is an integral part of the B’s dressing room and his injury in the opening minutes of Game 1, rallied the team and in large part, led them to where they stand today—with the Stanley Cup raised above their heads.
“Our players really wanted him to be here and obviously you know when you’ve got a concussion, flying can be sometimes touchy but our doctors said he was well enough to be able to make the trip,” Julien said.
“And guys came to me this morning and said ‘we’d like Nathan to be in our dressing room right from the get-go and be part of our preparation for this game’ and he really wanted to be part of it.”
But after the emotional lift of Horton’s presence in the locker room, it was time to play hockey. Julien wanted him team to focus on the small picture, the single game, the single period, the single shift.
“It wasn’t ours to have,” Julien said of the Cup. “It was ours to earn.”
Earn it, they did.