Fresh off of a clinch of a playoff spot, the Montreal Gazette’s Stu Cowan explains why Canadiens fans should be toasting the new bench boss who guided the team to the postseason with a steady hand. Claude Julien was hired immediately following the Habs’ firing of Michel Therrien, and with Julien in charge, Montreal experienced a surge that carried them into the playoffs. Cowan writes that the Canadiens are 13-5-1 since Julien took over and following his first practice with the team, Julien said this:
“Guys had to go on the ice today feeling good about themselves. I made sure that happened. Guys want hope. Guys want excitement. Guys want positive messages. It’s easy for a new coach coming in to give those positive messages. I wanted them to know how good I think the team is. We’re in first place, OK? There’s no need to panic, but there’s a need to fix.”
With the team for at least five seasons, and for the job he’s already done in his first few months on the job with the Canadiens (again), Cowan believes the coach deserves to be the toast of Montreal.
In other NHL news:
- The Avalanche may have had a tough year, but there are still silver linings. One of those come in the form of center J.T. Compher, who Denver Post writer Terry Frei reports has been a welcome addition after general manager Joe Sakic called up the kids. Compher, a University of Michigan product, has three goals in 16 games and has centered a line with Gabriel Landeskog, and Matt Duchene. For Compher, it’s about learning “consistency” after being called up following the Avs’ trade of Jarome Iginla, and also finishing the season strong. With the Avalanche looking to win the draft lottery and build upon its young core, Compher figures to be an essential building block in what needs to be an efficient and swift rebuild after such a crushing season.
- The Sun-Sentinel’s Craig Davis writes that while Shawn Thornton is known for his tough guy persona on the ice, it’s his “nice guy” persona off the ice that earned him a Bill Masterson Trophy nomination for the Florida Panthers. Thornton’s self-named foundation works to raise research funds in the fight against Parkinson’s and cancer. In addition to doing community outreach, Thornton also holds an annual charity golf outing. Though he made headlines recently for his furious quotes regarding Alexei Emelin, Davis highlights the side of hockey where the compassionate side of hockey players take precedence.