Claude Julien said he intends to coach the Montreal Canadiens next season after having a heart procedure that caused him to leave the Stanley Cup Playoffs before they were eliminated.
“I’ve recovered well, to the point that if we won Game 6 on Friday, I would’ve headed back to the bubble in Toronto on Saturday,” Julien said Wednesday. “I feel good. I had a scare that turned out well in the end. I’m ready to come back at 100 percent.”
Julien was hospitalized because of chest pains experienced after a 2-1 loss to the Philadelphia Flyers in Game 1 of the best-of-7 Eastern Conference First Round on Aug. 12. He returned to Montreal after having a stent procedure in Toronto, the Eastern hub city. The Canadiens were eliminated in six games under associate coach Kirk Muller.
“I was encouraged to go to the hospital,” Julien told Sportsnet of the events in Toronto. “So it was a decision I made and one I’m extremely happy I made, but I’m also happy that I had people around me who really encouraged me to go. You never realize to what end it can be dangerous and never envision yourself in that situation.”
Julien would be returning for the fifth season of his second stint as Canadiens coach; he also coached them from 2002-06. In seven seasons with Montreal, he is 192-170-46 with 10 ties.
“Health and family are always the priority,” the 60-year-old said. “But I’m very comfortable with my return, and my family is too. My health is 100 percent; there’s no reason why I couldn’t be back behind the bench or be afraid of anything.”
The NHL has not announced a starting date for next season.
“I think there’s probably a bigger risk for my health if I had to step back, because when you’re prevented from what you love doing, there’s a mental impact on you,” Julien said. “And right now I still feel energetic. I still feel like I’ve got a lot to offer, and if that was taken away from me, there’s no doubt it would have a huge impact on me.”
In 17 seasons as an NHL coach with the Canadiens, New Jersey Devils and Boston Bruins, Julien is 658-440-148 with 10 ties. He’s 13th in NHL history in wins, and his 1,256 games coached are 18th. He coached the Bruins to the Stanley Cup in 2011 and won the Jack Adams Award voted as the NHL coach of the year in 2009.
“I really appreciated all the support; it helped me recover,” Julien said. “Whether it was from the coaches, people from the League, or elsewhere, it was incredible. I’d like to thank everyone for helping me get through this.”