Claude Julien had the smile of a happy man. Away from the rink since the 12 march, the date of the interruption of the season in the national hockey League because of the pandemic of the COVID-19, head coach of the Canadian has regained a semblance of normality.
For a second straight day, Julien had pulled up his skates and whistle to direct the training of the Habs Tuesday at the training complex in Brossard.
“We are pets of routine, there are things that we have done since we played hockey and that is the coaches, recalled Julien. It was weird and different for the past four months, but it was nice to get back into the game and do what you love. It is like starting a new season, even if it ends up a.
“We know that our chances were minimal to participate in the series. I said to the guys : we should not be embarrassed to participate. Last year, it wasn’t there, and three teams (Vegas, Dallas and Colorado) were there with a worse card than we are. “
At its output a second drive of nearly an hour, Julien has met journalists for the first time since the beginning of phase 3 of the revitalization activities. It was through the application zoom in the large conference room, where there was not a single journalist in front of him. A stark contrast to his usual reality.
“John (Lu), I can’t see you, then I wonder what you are wearing today. Do you have your bowtie ? “
Julien started this quip to the colleague of TSN, who is always drawn to the nines to practice or to the matches of the Tricolor.
The former Stanley Cup winner with the Boston Bruins in 2011 described the main difference in its work by the time of the pandemic.
“It is not to forget to put my mask on at the minute that I get out of my office, he answered. The rest is more or less the same. We watch videos, we spend a lot of time at the gym. The only thing that was done more seriously, it is to tighten all of the things. Before this situation, the guy liked to arrive early, breakfast, to spend time together. Now it is more tight, we want to comply with the criteria and remain in good health. After the training, it encourages players to return to their homes.
“If you’re not careful, you put everyone in danger. I think our players understand that. They are athletes who have been disciplined all their lives. I think they understand what they need to do to protect the other.
On the ice, Julien and his assistants, however, did not carry the mask in order to express themselves more freely and breathe better while skating.
Of the improvement and the Penguins
By the first match of the qualifying round scheduled for August 1st in Toronto, Julien will work first on his own team before establishing strategies to counter the Pittsburgh Penguins.
“At this time, the majority of players, we knew, they knew the system. It is more a question of improving aspects of our game that will give us success, he explained. We focus on ourselves, and the next week, we will approach the steps to properly prepare for Pittsburgh. In a camp of normal, the players pass the tests and we can see if they are in good shape. The guys have had the chance to skate and keep in shape. This time, we didn’t have this luxury with all the players. We don’t want to overtax the players and put them in a vulnerable position, for those who have not had the same training that if there had been no COVID. “
For a second day in a row, the defenders Brett Kulak and Xavier Ouellet have not participated in the training. Shea Weber, meanwhile, was reunited with his teammates only in the last minutes of the session.
“I expect to see Weber on Wednesday, but I can’t say more,” replied Julien, respecting the setpoint of the silence of the NHL and the players ‘ Association.