Claude Julien knows Alain Vigneault. Julien was 60 years ago, Vigneault was 59 years. At another time, they were both defenders, with the Golden Eagles of Salt Lake City in the League, central hockey. It was, in 1981-1982 and 1982-1983.
At the same time, Vigneault has played 42 games in the NHL, with the Blues of St. Louis. Julien has participated in 14 games in the NHL with the Quebec Nordiques.
The two men have already run the Olympic Hull (Gatineau now) in the QMJHL. They were given their first chance as a head coach in the circuit Bettman with the Canadian.
In 2011, Julien won his first and only conquest of the Stanley Cup while he was behind the bench of the Boston Bruins. Vigneault was the coach of the losing team, the Vancouver Canucks.
Julien and Vigneault will meet for a third time in the series. A third time with different teams. In 2017, Julien and the Canadian had lost in the first round against the New York Rangers, the team Vigneault at this time. Three years later, the CH will face the Flyers again in the first round. A reunion for the two friends.
At the dawn of this first round, Julien did not have much of a taste to bring out the memories of his past with Vigneault.
“The concentration is on my team and on what we need to do to win, is simply countered Julien. For me, Philadelphia is the team with the best balanced that I’ve seen here in Toronto. It is a big team. The Flyers have a good balance. We have a lot of work to do. My focus is not on Alain and Michel, even if we know each other. I focus on my preparation to give myself a chance to win. “
A duel against the Flyers will also have a special style for several veterans of the Habs. Carey Price, Shea Weber, Brendan Gallagher, Paul Byron, Phillip Danault, Jeff Petry and Artturi Lehkonen renew with their former coach in Montreal, Michel Therrien.
Coach-in-chief in the soul, Therrien has accepted a position of assistant to track Vigneault, an accomplice of long standing in Philadelphia.
Mike Yeo, another former head coach with the Wild in Minnesota and the Blues of St. Louis, and Ian Laperriere completes the quartet of men’s hockey with the Flyers.
In his second season with the CH, Tomas Tatar has never played for Therrien. But he has enough experience to know that the presence of a familiar face in the opposing camp could light a fire for some of her teammates.
“Absolutely, it can represent a motivation, has recognized Tatar. There are players who have played for him. I didn’t experience this, I don’t know him very well. But above all, we want to win. This is the main motivation. It does not bother about who will be behind the bench of the Flyers. We will focus on our structure and our team. We will be ready for this tour. “
Julien has accented his speech on an important topic, that of the power of the Flyers. In the preliminary round, to determine the order of the first four teams in the East, the Flyers have signed three wins in three matches.
Gains of 4 to 1 against the Bruins, 3 to 1 against the Capitals, and 4-to-1 against the Lightning.
“The Flyers, and I say that honestly, are the best team I’ve seen here, replied Julian. They have a good team game, good balance, and they have depth at all positions. It will be a big challenge for us. We hope that our game in the qualifying round will help us against the Flyers. “
Hope to get a chance in this series, the Habs would have to compete with the intensity, the robustness and failure before constant attackers of the Flyers.
A contrast large enough with its latest rivals, the Penguins.
“The Flyers are more physical, they have more big players,” said defender Victor Mete. For me, this is the biggest difference with the Penguins. ”