Volume 12 Week 5

Tuesday, Aug. 19


 

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(Posted 11 a.m., Aug. 7)
Hundreds turnout for chance to meet Lord Stanley's cup
By Fred Sherwin
Orléans Online

Claude Julien's niece Mia sits inside the Stanley Cup during a family photo with the trophy in his parents' backyard. Also in the picture are Claude's wife Karen, their daughter Katryna and his brother Rick. Fred Sherwin/Photo


When Boston Bruins coach Claude Julien brought the Stanley Cup to his parents' home on Navan Road on Saturday it was supposed to be a quiet family affair, but news travels fast in Orléans and by 4 p.m. about 500 people were lined up for a chance to meet Julien and have their picture taken with the most famous mug in sports.

Julien grew up in Orléans and played his minor hockey in Cumberland and Gloucester before eventually joining the Nepean Raiders. After a stint in the OHL with the Oshawa Generals and the Windsor Spitfires, Julien played professional hockey for 12 years, including 13 games in the NHL, before joining the coaching ranks as an assistant for the Ottawa Jr. Senators in 1994.

One person who didn't have to stand in line on Saturday was the man who gave Julien his first big break as a coach, former Gatineau Olympiques general manager Charlie Henry.

Henry recalls offering the job to Julien in 1996.

"I knew Oshawa was after him too, so I offered him a three-year contract on the spot," says Henry who took a break from battling cancer to see his former coach.

During Julien's first year with the Olympiques he took them to the Memorial Cup championship, foreshadowing the success that was yet to come his way. In 2000, the Montreal Canadians hired Julien to coach the Hamilton Bulldogs.

The Bulldogs finished 13 games below .500 that first year. A year later they finished seven games above .500 and made it all the way to the semi-finals. In 2002-2003, they started out 33-6 before the parent club came calling and made Julien their new head coach.

Julien spent the better part of three seasons with the Canadiens, before being let go midway through the 2005-2006 campaign. He was hired by the New Jersey Devils that summer and coached them to their best record before or since, before being fired by Devils GM Lou Lamoriello just three games prior to the start of the playoffs.

The sudden firing was tough for Julien to take, but he wouldn't be out of work for long. Three months after being fired by the Devils, he was hired by the Bruins and three years later he led them to the promised land.

Henry says Julien's most important attribute as a coach is his ability to get his players to believe in themselves and each other.

"He has a gift to make you believe in yourself and the team concept and he worked hard to get to where he is, no one gave him anything," says Henry, who was torn between Julien and fellow former Olympiques head coach Alain Vigneault when the Stanley Cup finals began.

"It was tough for me to pick sides with Claude and Alain coaching against each other, but Claude called me after Game 3 and said, 'Charlie we're going to win this thing', and I believed him."

Henry was hospitalized shortly after the playoffs, but he wasn't far from Julien's thoughts. The day after the Stanley Cup parade was held in Boston, Julien flew to Ottawa to visit his old friend.

"He just that type of guy. He's very loyal to his friends and players and he'll do anything for you," says Henry.

On Saturday, he spent four hours posing for pictures and signing autographs. The first two hours were set aside for relatives and close friends. Aunts, uncles and cousins came from as far away as Kapuskasing, Sudbury and Montreal.

Playing host to the family reunion was Julien's proud parents Marcel and Julien, his brother Rick and his sister Natalie.

Marcel had a broad smile on his face the entire time. The last time the Juliens had that many relatives in their backyard was when Claude married his wife Karen.

"This is something, isn't it? It's hard for me to put in words just how I feel," said Marcel surveying the scene.

Julien began his day with the Stanley Cup on the Rideau Canal. After posing for pictures with his wife Karen and their five-year-old daughter Katryna, they went to a public appearance at the Tudor Hall attended by hundreds of fans.

They were at the Hall for two hours before making the drive out to Navan. By the time the last fan had his picture taken with the Cup, Julien was ready for a little R&R followed by a private dinner with the family.

During the meet and greet session in Navan, a number of people could be heard saying they were looking to coming back next year as they were leaving.

It's hard to believe that back in March, many Bruins fans were calling for Julien's head. Such is the life of an NHL coach -- from being on the verge of unemployment to hosting a Stanley Cup party in your parents' backyard in less than four months. It couldn't have happened to a nicer guy.

(This story was made possible thanks to the generous support of our local business partners.)

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