OTTAWA -- No NHL coach would ever say there is a bad time to win the Stanley Cup, but in the case of Claude Julien, the victory really couldn't have come at a better time.
An added bonus to Julien guiding the Boston Bruins to the Cup last spring is that he gets to coach in Sunday's 2012 Tim Hortons NHL All-Star Game, and it just so happens he gets to do so in a year the NHL's mid-season party is being held in his hometown.
"The fact that it's at home certainly makes it even more special to get an opportunity to visit with family, have them come to the game and, obviously, make a nice week of it,"Julien said Friday at the 2012 Allstate Insurance All-Star Media Day. "You don't always get that opportunity. I grew up here in Ottawa, played my minor hockey here and there a lot of people I know. So if I was going to coach another All-Star Game, I couldn't have picked a better time."
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The Senators re-entered the NHL in 1992-93, one year after Julien retired as a player. Ever since, the Senators have been lobbying the League to be able to host the All-Star game, and as Julien's luck would have it that this is the year it finally came through.
He remembers with great fondness the time when his hometown became an NHL city again.
"I thought it was a big deal and I was so happy to see an NHL team come to Ottawa," Julien said. "I had moved back here after retiring as a player, and there's nothing worse than not having an NHL team in your city. You feel like you're kind of fading away from the League. To have a team here gave me an opportunity to stay close."
Julien will be coaching the team captained by his captain in Boston, Zdeno Chara, and he wouldn't comment on the roster assembled for him by the big defenseman during Thursday night's 2012 Molson Canadian NHL All-Star Fantasy Draft.
"I'll let you know what I think after the game," he said laughing.
Chara, though, understands how much it means for his coach to be able to experience coaching in the All-Star Game for a second time after he led the Eastern Conference team at the 2009 game in Montreal.
"It means a lot no matter what, it's only more special when he's in his own backyard," Chara said. "It's an honor, not just for the players but for the coaches to have the privilege to be at the All-Star Game with the players. I'm sure he's happy about it."
Chara says the fact Julien is in Ottawa is largely due to his leadership, during last year's Stanley Cup Playoffs.
"He was very calm and very patient about the way we played, especially in the playoffs," Chara said. "We had three rounds go to Game 7, and usually you sense or notice that the coach is kind of nervous, too. But you really didn't see that in him. He was very strong that way.
"You look at the biggest leader we have and obviously that's him, he's the head coach. When you see a little bit of weakness you hesitate a bit yourself, but we never saw that with him. He was just solid like a rock, even before Game 7 of the Final. The meeting was like any other meeting. It was nothing special, nothing that made you see this was different from before. It was the same thing."
Julien, who still has a home about an hour outside of Ottawa, feels having the All-Star festivities here was the final missing piece to becoming a full-fledged NHL city.
"It was very good to have a team here, I thought this city was always capable of supporting it and they've proved it over the years," Julien said. "When you look at it today, we've had a draft and now an All-Star Game; it's something they should be proud of."