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Patriots coach Belichick hits Winter Classic ice

by Bill Price

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick wore his traditional hooded sweatshirt Thursday at Gillette Stadium but added a new wrinkle to his wardrobe: hockey skates.

Belichick was skating on the ice along with Boston Bruins coach Claude Julien an hour before the Bruins' final practice ahead of the 2016 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic against the Montreal Canadiens on New Year's Day (1 p.m. ET; NBC, TVA Sports, SN).

The session lasted approximately 20 minutes and Belichick acquitted himself well as he went around the ice with Julien while Bruins legend and current Bruins president Cam Neely watched from the bench.

Julien had attended Patriots practice Wednesday, and while there asked Belichick about skating with him Thursday.

"As we were talking [Wednesday] about how the ice was and everything else was, and I said, 'Do you want to skate?' And he said he would love to," Julien said. "So we set him up with a pair of skates. He's skated before. Obviously we gave him a stiff pair of skates today, which is different than probably what he is used to so it took him a little bit of time to get more comfortable.

"From the second he put his skates on to how he finished he improved quite a bit. I wish my players could improve that quickly."

Both coaches spoke highly of each other after the skate.

"It's always great to catch up with Bill," Julien said. "I've admired him for a long time for how he handles his team, how he coaches. It was an enjoyable moment with him. In my book it's unique. It was a lot of fun."

Said Belichick, "I love Claude. He's a great guy. I think we probably have a lot in common; the way we coach and look at the game and look at the team and things like that. I don't know a lot about hockey but it's a pretty simple game. Put the puck in the net."

Belichick said he played in a "huff-and-puff" hockey league in New Jersey while working as an assistant coach with the New York Giants.

"Wish I could've played hockey," said Belichick. "It's a great sport. It's fast, a lot of action, contact, skill, speed. Football, lacrosse, hockey, they all kind of have those elements of contact, speed, skill in varying forms. But they're all exciting."

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