Claude Julien was hospitalized following the Montreal Canadiens’ Game 1 loss to the Philadelphia Flyers on Wednesday, and the coach is not expected to be back for the rest of the Eastern Conference First Round.
“Claude felt chest pains during the night,” general manager Marc Bergevin said Thursday. “We immediately consulted our doctors and it was agreed to quickly transfer him to the hospital by ambulance. He’s presently there and is under tests to determine exactly the nature of his condition. This has nothing to do with COVID.
“We don’t expect him to be back during this series against the Flyers. Kirk (Muller), Dominique (Ducharme) and Luke (Richardson) will share the responsibility. However, Kirk is the associate head coach and he will assume the responsibility of head coach until Claude’s return.
“Kirk will have 100 percent carte blanche to make the decisions he believes necessary to help the team win.”
The Flyers won the game 2-1. Game 2 is Friday (3 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, SN, TVAS, NBCSP), at Scotiabank Arena in Toronto, the hub city for the Eastern Conference.
“I met with the coaches this morning. I have faith in them,” Bergevin said. “We beat the Pittsburgh Penguins (in the Stanley Cup Qualifiers); it’s not the coaches that beat them, it’s the players. We have the same group. I thought last night in our game, without going into details, we were maybe a little nervous in the first 20 (minutes), but after that I felt our team was coming and we played hard and competed hard. I expect the same thing tomorrow. We shocked a lot of people in the first series, and I expect them to rise to the occasion and keep on going.”
Canadiens captain Shea Weber said he doesn’t envision a lot of changes in Julien’s absence.
“The other coaches know what our system is, they’ve put all this plan in place as well. They’re going to do a good job leading us that way,” he said. “We still have to compete the same way we’ve been going and accomplish the same things we’re trying to do.
“The biggest concern is obviously his health. We want to make sure he’s healthy first. That’s something for sure we can draw on and use that … we were motivated in the first place but this could just draw a little bit more out of that.
Julien is in the fourth season of his second stint as Canadiens coach; he also coached them from 2002-03 to 2005-06. In seven total seasons with Montreal he is 192-170-46 with 10 ties.
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 are 18th. He led the Bruins to the Stanley Cup in 2011, and won the Jack Adams Award as NHL coach of the year in 2009.
Calgary Flames coach Geoff Ward, an assistant under Julien in Boston, said he was shocked by the news.
“Not only do I feel for Claude and his family, but also the organization and the team,” Ward said. “It has ripples when something like this happens. He’s such a great person. He’s a great coach. I’m sure his presence around that team will be missed, but right now I think everyone’s thoughts are with Claude and that he’s healthy and doing well.
“When it’s a good friend, it’s not a good thing to hear.”
Bergevin said Julien is in good hands at the hospital.
“Everything should be fine,” he said. “We hope for the best. There was some positive news. Hopefully he could be released shortly and go back home. I know Claude talked to his wife early (this) morning, I don’t believe she’s on her way here. He’s in good hands at the hospital here and everything should be fine. We hope for the best. There was some positive news. Hopefully he could be released shortly and go back home.
“For this series, the chances of his return are truly small.”
Muller is in his fourth season as an associate with the Canadiens, after previously being an assistant with Montreal from 2006-11. He spent parts of three seasons as coach of the Carolina Hurricanes from 2011-12 to 2013-14, going 80-80-27 in 187 games.