Claude Julien Launched Pro Hockey Playing and Coaching Career After Stint with Windsor Spitfires
This is the second installment of this two part series. Part one located here.
Claude Julien has been replaced as the head coach of the Canadian Olympic men’s hockey team for the 2022 Beijing Winter Games.
Julien, a former Windsor Spitfire defenceman and team captain, suffered fractured ribs during Team Canada’s training camp in Switzerland and it was determined by Team Canada medical staff that traveling to Beijing was not practical.
A career coach, Julien has served as the bench boss in the National Hockey League with the Montreal Canadiens, New Jersey Devils and Boston Bruins, was immediately replaced as Team Canada’s head coach by Jeremy Colliton.
After leaving the Windsor Spitfires just three games into what would have been his third and overage season in the fall of 1980, Claude Julien embarked on a journeyman minor pro hockey career with the Port Huron Flags of the International Hockey League (IHL). He went on to play subsequent seasons with the Salt Lake Golden Eagles of the Central Hockey League (CHL) and Milwaukee Admirals and Fredericton Express, both of the American Hockey League (AHL) before making his National Hockey League playing career with a one-game stint with the Quebec Nordiques in 1984-85 and playing 13 more contests in Quebec the following season.
The hard-rock rearguard from Blind River, Ontario then added to his resume by playing in the AHL again with the Baltimore Skipjacks, Halifax Citadels and Moncton Hawks in addition to two more campaigns with the Express in Fredericton. Julien also patrolled the blueline for another season in the IHL (1990-91) with the Kansas City Blades exactly a decade after his last game with the Spitfires.
Six years after playing his last game of minor pro hockey, Julien embarked on his coaching career by serving as the head coach of the Hull Olympiques of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL), leading the team to a Memorial Cup championship in the spring of 1997. He then served as the head coach of the AHL’s Hamilton Bullodogs the top farm team of the Montreal Canadiens, for a trio of campaigns, ending in 2003 with his appointment as the top bench boss of the Canadiens on January 17, 2003. Julien complied a record of 72-62-10-15 in three seasons in Montreal before he was fired almost exactly three years later – on January 14, 2006. He was replaced by Habs’ general manager Bob Gainey.
In June of 2006 Julien was named head coach of the NHL’s New Jersey Devils,lasting only one season before again being given his walking papers. He wasn’t out of work very long as he was named the 28th head coach in the history of the Boston Bruins a year later. Julien’s tenure in Beantown lasted a decade and he guided the Bruins to a Stanley Cup title during the 2010-2011 season with a roster that included current Windsor Spitfires head coach Marc Savard.
Julien was fired by the Bruins on February 7, 2017 after racked up 419 regular season wins still a Boston franchise record for all-time wins by a coach.
Julien then took over as the head coach of the Montreal Canadiens again just ten days later and remained in that position until being removed from the position at this time last year.