Claude Julien said Monday he wants to coach for a long as possible.
The 60-year-old coach of the Montreal Canadiens had a heart procedure in August that caused him to leave the Stanley Cup Playoffs before the Canadiens were eliminated by the Philadelphia Flyers in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference First Round.
“Right now, I’m back 100 percent,” Julien said. “My heart is 100 percent. So the only thing that was hurting me for a while was the fact that the blood flow wasn’t going through my heart with one of the arteries being blocked. I think that’s been fixed and I’m back to being 100 percent, so as long as my health is good, and my passion and excitement remains, I’d love to keep coaching as long as I can.”
Julien agreed to a five-year contract with the Canadiens on Feb. 14, 2017, eight days after he was fired by the Boston Bruins, that runs through the 2021-22 season. He was hospitalized because of chest pains experienced after a 2-1 loss to the Flyers in Game 1 on Aug. 12, with associate coach Kirk Muller taking over. Julien returned to Montreal after having a stent procedure in Toronto, the Eastern Conference hub city, and said Aug. 26 he would have been back in the bubble if Montreal had extended the best-of-7 series to Game 7.
“Health is an important thing, but the other part that’s really important is your passion and your excitement and everything else,” Julien said. “I love going to the rink every day to working with players and then preparing for games and practices. As long as you love your job and you have the energy to do it and the passion to do it, that’s the most important part versus whether you feel like you should retire because you’ve been coaching long enough.”
Julien is 658-440-148 with 10 ties in 17 seasons for the Canadiens, New Jersey Devils and Bruins. He’s 13th in NHL history in wins, and his 1,256 games coached are 18th. Julien is entering the fifth season of his second stint with the Canadiens, having begun his NHL coaching career with them in the 2002-03 season. The season is targeted to begin Jan. 1.
Julien, voted the Jack Adams Award winner as NHL coach of the year in 2009 and a Stanley Cup winner with the Bruins in 2011, will work with a retooled Canadiens roster this season. Forward Tyler Toffoli agreed to a four-year contract, and Montreal traded for goalie Jake Allen, forward Josh Anderson and defenseman Joel Edmundson after finishing 12th in the East (31-31-9, .500 points percentage) and defeating the Pittsburgh Penguins in four games in the best-of-5 Stanley Cup Qualifiers.
“This is going to be a fun year,” Julien said. “We’ve got a little bit of everything. We’ve got size now. We’ve got scoring. There’s great goaltending. There’s a solid D and then some exciting forwards that’s going to make our team fun to watch as a fan. We’re looking forward to that.”