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Transcript: Claude Julien On Dale & Holley

10.01.09 at 3:45 pm ET

Boston Bruins head coach Claude Julien joined Dale and Holley at noon to discuss the season opener, the loss of Phil Kessel and plans for the upcoming season. Check out the transcript below.

Click here for the full audio.

Will David Krejci play tonight against the Washington Capitals?

Yes he will. He feels really good and he is excited about getting back in the lineup. I like what I saw from him this morning so there is no reason to hold him back.

Did last year’€™s deeper run into the playoffs help this team?

Well obviously, we are still hungry again. That is the one thing that we are and what’€™s unfortunate is that we talk about a Game 7 and overtime loss and also realized what that one goal could have done had it gone our way, who knows how far it would have brought us. We hopefully learned from that and came back obviously hungry. Expectations are a little higher for our club this year because of what he accomplished last year. But, the challegene is still there, I think the hungriness of trying to better is still there and I think it is up to us to go out there and show it.

 The team won the Jennings Trophy for fewest goals allowed last year on the strength of Tim Thomas and your defensive philosophy. Is the team buying into the defensive philosophy this year as well?

 Well it has been hard to assess that. Based on our training camp we never were able to get our team together. We had three games in three nights which made us carry about 35 players. I think we will get a better view of that now that our team is together and that starts tonight. I know for a fact that the players like it and they are very comfortable with it. It really eliminates a lot of grey areas. They were really proud of us being able to allow the fewest goals last year. So, what is it called, it’€™s the defense first approach. But the defense first approach means you do it well defensively, you recover the puck quicker and hopefully it results in a great offense, which it did last year for our hockey club.

Is it difficult to integrate new players, such as Derek Morris, into your system?

 I wouldn’€™t say it is difficult but it is still an adjustment. You know, because in hockey, maybe a lot of people don’€™t see it, there is a very aggressive style of defense then there is a defense that tries that, I guess, keep teams to the outside. That’€™s what we do, try to keep teams to the outside and we that if we do that our goaltender is good enough that he will stop those shots. So, basically, it is sometimes about being a little more patient than about being aggressive. That’€™s what it has to be to adjust for a player like Derek Morris whose been used to playing a little bit more aggressive style. But, it is not a difficult one, but it is more of an adjustment.

We will see more defensemen getting in on the offensive act like we did last year? It seems to fit into the strengths of the defensemen this year.

Yeah it does and adding Derek Morris, who is probably a little bit more of an offensive defenseman if you compare him to Aaron Ward who was a stay at home defenseman who liked to block shots. Derek is a great puck moving defenseman who we will see on the power play as well. That will be one of it. The other part that we want to do better is our forechecks, sustaining it in the offensive zone and not retreating as quickly as we did last year and I think that’€™s what we got to do here is be a little bit more aggressive and stay on top of the puck more in the offensive zone and hopefully that will create a little bit or scoring chances for us as well.

Did you start to plan with life without Phil Kessel even before the trade was official, based on the information you had at the time?

Well I did and I will tell you why I did though, probably not for the reasons that you are talking about. We knew that if Phil Kessel had been here, he wasn’€™t going to be available to us till November. Even though David Krejci was ahead of the curve, Kessel wasn’€™t. He was basically a guy that was going to be ready when he was told he was going to be ready. So, we would have had to start without him for at least a month, maybe more. So, this was something that I had already planned on, preparing with our team without Phil Kessel in it.

Reading between the lines last year it seemed like there was tension with Kessel. Is that new to you, dealing with something like that in your career?

You would deal with that through your whole career. Players you have to convince to do stuff like that. But you know guys, it has maybe been blown out of proportion a little bit because it really wasn’€™t that big of an issue. I don’€™t think Phil and I butted heads last year. But then again, how could you when a guy is scoring 36 goals. I think he couldn’€™t have been happier, he went from 19 to 36. I think if there was a little bit of head butting it would have been the year before and the year before Phil was in a learning curve and we really wanted to mold him into a great player. I guess we had to earn his trust and really understand that we were trying to help him and not trying to punish him. And when he understood that concept I think that last year was much better and it has played out that way in the media and that is fine with me but I don’€™t think there were any issues with Phil. I don’€™t even remember bringing him into my office and having to read him the riot act, if that is what people are expecting to hear. But, he had a great season and he was a great player for us but unfortunately, like you said, he was one player we couldn’€™t afford anymore or he didn’€™t want to be here either and that was the front office’€™s decision and that is one I respect.

What are the strengths of David Krejci’€™s game and what is his upside?

David Krejci has got a lot of upside and part of that is he is a great playmaker. You know, we talked about Marc Savard being able to make some of those great plays well, David Krejci is in that area as well. I think he has great vision, he has got good hands, not only that but he is going to put points up on the board. He’€™s one of those guys that competes hard, he’€™s not afraid to get his nose dirty, as we call it in hockey. But, what I have seen from this player is that he keeps on getting better and better. He’€™s maturing and understanding the game more and more. What it takes to be a good pro and I think that’€™s what out organization liked about him.

What would a full season of Marco Sturm do for your teams offense?

Well I think it would certainly help a lot when we talk about losing Phil and his 36 goals. Well, here is Marco Sturm who had 28 two years ago [actually 27] when he was healthy the whole here. We didn’€™t have him last year so right then and there is a big part of Kessel’€™s goals that were replaced by Sturms. And we feel that [Patrice] Bergeron obviously a much better player at this time right now than he was at this point last year, will help us compensate for that. There are other players that keep growing in their roles that we think as a group will help fill that gap. But this is what Marco Sturm can bring to our hockey club and this is what we expect out of him this year.

P.J. Axelsson has moved on after a long Bruins career. What did you see in P.J. that made him valuable that other Bruins coaches saw as well?

You know if I take a step back even when I was in New Jersey I had Jacque Laperriere as an assistant coach and I remember Jacques talking about P.J. Axelsson when he was here in Boston with Pat Burns and I know that Jacques Laperriere really liked him. And, when I got here and got to really know P.J. what maybe the fan does not always see is here is a guy who has got great hockey sense. He was able to read plays well, he was a great penalty killer and yeah, he wasn’€™t a 30 goal scorer but he was a guy who, when you were in a pinch, you could put on your top line because he had skills and he was able to bail you out in that area. Was he a perfect first line player? I don’€™t think so. He fit more of a third line defensive player where he excelled and was a great penalty killer but he was still a very versatile guy. But more than that, he was a great teammate. In the dressing room he was a great leader. He brought a lot of things that people didn’€™t always see and I think also the community work he did in this area was really outstanding as well. We enjoyed him and he really enjoyed Boston but, unfortunately, some of those things have to come to and end at some point.

Usually the Bruins start on the road. If the season started with a long road trip is it reasonable to say that Vladimir Sobotka would not have been sent down to Providence yesterday?

That would have been a possibility. Obviously it would have been management decision and then, right now, it is a matter of keeping some cap space, it is a matter of a lot of things. You know, the advantage that we have here in Boston is that the team we have in Providence is less than an hour away and it’€™s an easy call-up. I think if sometimes if a player isn’€™t going to play much it is better to let him play a lot and I think that we’€™ve had that advantage in the past when we’€™ve had injuries we’€™ve called guys up and they’€™ve responded well because we didn’€™t take them out of the stands, we took them out of our minor league system where they played a lot and they’€™ve come in and fitted well and didn’€™t miss a beat. I think that is an advantage that we have. It’€™s unfortunate, as Peter said, there’€™s some cap issues in today’€™s game and we have to make some decisions. But I’€™m sure we will see him back sooner than later. 

What are the plans for Tuuka Rask? What is the plan for the backup in a perfect world?

In a perfect world Timmy would start 60-65 games this year and Tuuka would have the rest. Again, those are things that in a perfect world, that means the goaltenders are playing the way you want them to play and everything else. As a coach I don’€™t put too much emphasis on that because, basically a lot of it depends on the health of our goaltenders, a lot of it depends on how well they are doing and I would normally go game-to-game and project no more than a week ahead of time and usually talk with Bob Essensa, our goaltending coach, and make decisions with him and usually make a decision at that point.

Even in professional hockey, do players need to be read the riot act every once and a while, even want it?

As a coach I can tell you, if you don’€™t do it because you feel you need to do it then you are not doing your job. There might be some players that will maybe understand what you told them five years down the road, maybe ten years down the road. But, you know what, you have to be able to leave your office knowing that you did what you thought was best for the player and the organization and, you know, whether he grasped it right away or not,  you have to do what’€™s right and I think that’€™s the way I approach things. And, sometimes a player might grasp it quickly, sometimes it may take a while, but I’€™ve heard so many players at the end of their careers say ‘€˜oh, I wish I would have understood that ten years ago when the coach told me this or that.’€ So, you do what you have to do at that point and hope that it will help them sooner than later.

How do you negotiate the tightrope of saying it yourself or calling the captain in and saying ‘€˜the guys need to hear this’€™?

I don’€™t know if it is really the captain. If there is a message that is real important message that has to be brought to the team, I think it is up to the coach to do that. You can bounce things off your captain and if you are trying to get a pulse of the team and you are asking what he is seeing in there and you don’€™t want him necessarily throwing anybody under the bus, but more than anything you want him to help get the pulse of the team. But, it’€™s my job to do that, I have to go in there and give that message and I think that you can do that as long as you establish the fine line between respect and authority. The player will always, you know, understand what you are saying if your respect them and if you respect them enough and do it right they understand that you are the authority figure.

The fourth line with the addition of Steve Begin may be the ‘€œgreasiest’€ line to play against n the NHL.

Well it might be. What I like about Steve Begin, and don’€™t get me wrong, we all loved Stephane Yelle, I think he did a great job for us last year. The addition of Steve Begin, he is a high energy player and I think the way he plays and the way he throws his body around, I think people who like Milan Lucic will also like Steve Begin because he skates game in, game out, he hits, he’€™s also a decent penalty killer who will block shots just like Stephane Yelle did. Probably that line will have a little bit more umph, if I can use that term as well, and hopefully with the Bitzys (Byron Bitz] and [Shawn] Thorntons they will be throwing their weight around and give our team a little bit of energy that we need throughout the game.

You are ready for the opener, but Washington’€™s Alexander Ovechkin is certainly ready.

Yes he is and you know he is probably one of the better player in the league. And, we are fortunate that, as a team, obviously the defensive strategies and the fact that we limit scoring chances obviously helps, but the other part is they have one of the best offensive players in the league but we feel comfortable that we have one of the best defensive players in the league in Zdeno Chara who has done a great job against him in the past and you hope that that continues.

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