Kukla's Korner Hockey
by Paul on 06/07/11 at 04:02 PM ET
Q. Four-game suspension for Aaron Rome. Your thoughts on that and does it lead you to think that the NHL is taking a more serious tact to disciplining head shots?
COACH JULIEN: Well, I don’t think I’ve ever changed my approach on that. I said all along, whether it was the first incident in this series, I like to leave things up to the NHL to rule on those things and you move on.
I don’t want that job, to be honest with you. It’s a tough job. I’m one of those guys or one of those coaches that respects whatever they do. For people that thought I was disappointed with the Burrows thing, I wasn’t. I moved on.
In regards to this one here, they made a decision. I think it’s important for our whole league to protect our players from those kind of hits. Again, I support them. Whether you agree or not, you support them. I support them with the Burrows decision and I’m supporting them with this one, as well.
Q. Have you spoken to Nathan? Do you have any sense of where he’s at emotionally?
COACH JULIEN: Well, it’s pretty simple. Severe concussion. He’s also out for the rest of the series. So we lost a pretty good player. Obviously glad to know that it’s not as bad as you always suspect. For him to be out, got out this morning, has gone back home, obviously a long road to recovery, but hopefully he gets better soon.
Q. There was some suggestions on the outside that you were having trouble scoring in the first two games. How important is it to get eight goals last night? What were you doing that made you more successful?
COACH JULIEN: Well, I don’t know if I’d say it was a suggestion. I think we were having a hard time scoring. Let’s not pretend that we weren’t (smiling).
We weren’t doing the right things in regard to that. Last night was a better game. I thought we had some better-quality shots, we had better traffic in front of net. Even you saw some of those goals, we took loose pucks, instead of working the perimeter, we started taking pucks more to the net and consequently gave us goals that we were looking for since the start of the series.
Q. Now that the league has ruled with some definitive discipline, do you think some of the extracurricular activities will diminish?
COACH JULIEN: I don’t think one links to the other. What you see with the extra pushes and shoves after whistles are things you see in the playoff finals with the intensity. The referees have done a pretty good job of controlling that. I don’t see an issue there.
The physicality of the game has to stay there. I think what they ruled on is hits. Both teams, which I respect for doing that, said it was a late hit and ended up with a severe concussion.
Whether they agree with the suspension or not, I think we’re both on the same page as far as we’re trying to take those kind of things out of the game. I’ve been one of those guys that’s been very supportive of that throughout the whole year, even when it was our player and got suspended, such as Paille. I said, we’re trying to get this out of the game. You can’t be hypocritical about those kind of things and that’s what I’m trying to do here.
Q. Talk about the suspension in two contexts. What do you think about the league’s stance on these kinds of things, them taking a more active role in discipline, whereas 20 years ago the players would police themselves?
COACH JULIEN: Well, that’s the way the game has gone now. They’ve kind of taken that policing out of the game for reasons that they feel is right. They’ve taken control of that.
I think it’s important that they stay with it. Again, these are tough decisions to make, especially in the Stanley Cup Final. You’re suspending a guy for the rest of the series, so it’s not an easy decision to make.
There’s no doubt, again, being on the other side, I’m not going to say it’s not an easy thing to swallow for a team to have their player lost for the rest of the Final.
At the end of the day I’m repeating what I said here. We need to clean up this game from those kinds of hits. You got to remember in the days where players were policing themselves, I’m not sure the players were as strong, as big and quick as they are today.
The game has changed a lot in regards to that. So somehow we got to, I guess, make some changes to the rules, adapt to what it has become, and understand that the hits today are a lot harder than they were 30, 40 years ago.
I’m one of those guys, again, I’m repeating myself, but I’m supporting the League, knowing they’re trying to do the best they can. There’s no easy decision. This is a contact sport. You can’t take the contact out of the game. Just got to try to take those situations where it becomes extremely dangerous out of the game.
Q. Is it particularly gratifying for you that when you bring players into the lineup like Shawn and Tyler, that you’re able to get the most out of them when they do come in?
COACH JULIEN: It is. I think both of those guys did a great job of coming in. We know what Tyler did in those first two games. He got us right back in the series with the way he played, the goals that he scored that were huge goals. The way the series had gone so far in the first couple of games, with the line matchups and everything else, I thought it was important to get Shawn into our lineup.
I really commend him for the job he did yesterday. He certainly changed things a lot as far as our identity, what he brought to the table. People can look at him for his aggressiveness, but he also created that penalty that led to a goal on our power-play.
He did his job and he did it well.
Q. What has it been about Tyler that he’s been able to stay ready and come in motivated and perform right off the bat?
COACH JULIEN: Communication. I think people from the outside don’t really see what’s going on on the inside, but we’ve been extremely supportive, we’ve been extremely encouraging with him. We realize he’s a very young individual that is playing in the Stanley Cup Final right now. A lot to chew on at times. We need to be patient.
He also needs to be patient. He’s also taking the opportunity of every advantage we’re giving him. It’s the understanding he knows we’re doing the best thing we can for him. He trusts us. I think that’s made it a good relationship between him, the coaches, and the rest of the organization. We like his upside. He’s going to be a tremendous player.
I mean, we could give a ton of examples of players that have gone through the same thing as he has coming into the league as young players, having to learn through some of the things, grow through it.
Again, as you know with Horton gone now, there’s a pretty good chance you’re going to see him in the lineup again. He’s a good player for us. Yesterday was a tough decision. But when you look back at what happened last night, I think it was the right thing to put Shawn in.
Q. In addition to Shawn, the entire fourth line contribution last night?
COACH JULIEN: All four of those guys were tremendous for us. You saw Dan Paille on penalty kill, the chances he created, the goal he scored. Soupy was, again, just as good, especially in other areas. I mentioned last night that shot he blocked from Salo just going down. Those guys have been like that for us all year.
I know in the playoffs it’s changed a little bit. Their ice time diminished a little bit. But not last night. They stepped up and were ready to go, good team players, understanding their roles, and ready at any time.
Q. Andrew Ference was in the wrong place at the wrong time, but last night turned it around. What did you think of his play last night?
COACH JULIEN: That’s been it throughout the whole playoffs. I think every game that you lose, you’re looking to blame somebody, somebody’s made a mistake. It’s obviously something that’s bigger than during the regular season.
If it’s not him, it’s somebody else. It’s Boychuk seven goals-against. You can stand here and say, Well, three of them were power-play goals from the other team, five of them were from one game, and the other two were spread out through three games. Is it that bad? We don’t take the time to look are all seven goals his fault.
That’s what I think you have to put up with at this stage of the season where everybody is trying to dissect everything.
Andrew played a solid game for us. I think he’s been, by far, a much better player than he has been a guy to point the finger at throughout the whole series. He’s been a real consistent player. Everybody is entitled to have a tougher night than other nights. That goes through your whole lineup.
Q. One of the things that might have been overlooked last night was the play of Tim Thomas, particularly early in the game. Can you speak to the character that he shows being able to bounce back and play like he did last night.
COACH JULIEN: Well, I would say it might have been overlooked by a lot of people but certainly not by us.
Tim made some unbelievable saves, and he made them at the right time. When you look at the final score, you don’t think he had any impact on the game, but he had a big impact on the game. When it’s 2-0, some of those big saves, to keep it to that score until we’ve scored the third one, if it’s a 2-1 hockey game, now you’re giving the other team some light and it could have been a different outcome.
We certainly felt that Tim was on top of his game last night, was as good as he’s been throughout the whole playoffs. Obviously his play, giving up that one goal late in the game, is all he gave ‘em. I thought he was tremendous. As you said, probably overlooked by a lot, but certainly not from us.
Q. After playing Luongo three straight games now, do you have a better idea of how to attack him, where he might be more vulnerable? How tough mentally do you think he is to be able to bounce back from a game like yesterday?
COACH JULIEN: Well, number one, I think we had a really good idea about Roberto’s play even before last night. We just didn’t do things that we had to do to have success here. We have talked about that. We didn’t have a really good net front presence in the first couple of games. We were there, but on the sides. We had to make it a little harder for him to see those pucks. I thought our guys did a pretty good job. Those kind of things gave us some opportunities.
I don’t think it was us figuring him out after two games more than we had to do different things.
As far as how he’s going to react, I think you have to ask his coach. He knows him better than I do. I’ve dealt with him before, know Roberto well. I think Alain will have a much better idea how he’s going to bounce back than I will.
Q. Nathan Horton in the first day of training camp was very excited about being with an original six team, chance to play in the Stanley Cup playoffs. Did he ever express that to you in words that you can recall?
COACH JULIEN: Absolutely. What he expressed to you guys is what he expressed to us. First time I met him, should say first time I talked to him on the phone when the trade was originally made, when he showed up in the beginning of September, getting ready for training camp, you could see he was extremely happy to be here and was excited to come to this market.
I thought the start of his season was excellent. Got off to a great start. Hit a bit of a wall, but he really picked it up at the right time. I think, as I mentioned before, I thought his second half of the season was really good. His compete level was extremely good game in, game out, played with an edge, which a lot of people said he wasn’t capable of doing. He showed that on a regular basis.
We just lost a real important part of our hockey team right now.
Q. Were you part of the decision to leave his jacket in his locker last night?
COACH JULIEN: I’m going to leave that to the players, give them credit for that. At the end of the day, it was their decision. We had suggestions and they made that decision.
Q. Claude, back to the suspension. It was for a late hit. Had that hit taken place a split second earlier, it might have been legal under Rule 48. Would that bother you that that kind of hit would be legal?
COACH JULIEN: I think we’re talking about what if, what if here. I don’t think I want to get into that. All I’m saying is that the hit was deemed late. It was deemed suspendable. I’m going to leave it at that.
Again, we’ve been on the short end a lot of things that way. We’ve had some guys suspended this year for those kind of hits. You got to respect what the league is trying to do and you move on here.
That’s all I’m going to say about that.
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Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.
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