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Sports Canadiens' Claude Julien and Maple Leafs' Mike Babcock share a bond

08:55  24 september  2019
08:55  24 september  2019 Source:   montrealgazette.com

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Claude Julien, Mike Babcock around each other:  Claude Julien (second from left) and head coach Mike Babcock look on during the medal ceremony after Team Canada defeated Sweden 3-0 during the Men’s Ice Hockey Gold Medal match on Day 16 of the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics at Bolshoy Ice Dome on February 23, 2014 in Sochi, Russia.© Harry How Claude Julien (second from left) and head coach Mike Babcock look on during the medal ceremony after Team Canada defeated Sweden 3-0 during the Men’s Ice Hockey Gold Medal match on Day 16 of the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics at Bolshoy Ice Dome on February 23, 2014 in Sochi, Russia.

Mike Babcock and Claude Julien were both behind the bench when Team Canada won gold at the 2014 Olympics, and they have remained close ever since.

Babcock was the head coach at the Sochi Games and Julien was one of his three associate coaches, along with Ken Hitchcock and Lindy Ruff. Babcock and Julien still keep in touch and were texting each other ahead of Monday night’s NHL pre-season game between the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Canadiens at the Bell Centre.

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“We more or less chat about our situation and everything else,” Julien said after the Canadiens’ morning skate Monday in Brossard.

Claude Julien, Mike Babcock around each other:  Claude Julien (second from left) and head coach Mike Babcock look on during the medal ceremony after Team Canada defeated Sweden 3-0 during the Men’s Ice Hockey Gold Medal match on Day 16 of the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics at Bolshoy Ice Dome on February 23, 2014 in Sochi, Russia.© Harry How Claude Julien (second from left) and head coach Mike Babcock look on during the medal ceremony after Team Canada defeated Sweden 3-0 during the Men’s Ice Hockey Gold Medal match on Day 16 of the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics at Bolshoy Ice Dome on February 23, 2014 in Sochi, Russia.

No two coaches in the NHL are under more pressure or work in a bigger spotlight than Julien in Montreal and Babcock in Toronto. They’re also two of the highest-paid coaches in the NHL, with Babcock earning US$6.25 million in the fifth year of his eight-year $50-million contract and Julien earning US$5 million in the third year of his five-year $25-million contract.

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So, it’s not surprising Julien and Babcock can relate to each other.

“Some people enjoy these kind of environments and I have no issues with that,” Julien said about the pressure of coaching the Canadiens. “It’s a great city, fans are great, there’s a lot of interest and at the end of the day you do your job and you hope that you can bring a championship to this city.

“So that’s what I look at. I don’t look at it as pressure or even …,” Julien added before stopping to sneeze.

“Excuse me,” the coach continued with a chuckle. “Talking about that makes me sneeze.

“Those kind of things are actually great,” Julien added. “Pressure, it can be handled in different ways. It can be daunting or it can be exciting and it can be motivating.”

Julien and Babcock are facing different kinds of pressure this season.

a man wearing a uniform and holding a sign:  Carey Price has a conversation with coach Claude Julien during Montreal Canadiens practice at the Bell Sports Complex in Brossard on Jan. 31, 2019.© John Mahoney Carey Price has a conversation with coach Claude Julien during Montreal Canadiens practice at the Bell Sports Complex in Brossard on Jan. 31, 2019.

The Canadiens are simply hoping to make the playoffs for the first time in three years and then “anything can happen,” as GM Marc Bergevin likes to say. Nothing less than a Stanley Cup is expected in Toronto with the Maple Leafs’ high-priced lineup that includes forwards Auston Matthews ($11.634 million), John Tavares ($11 million), Mitch Marner ($10.893 million) and William Nylander ($6.962 million), who will eat up more than half of the Leafs’ US$81.5-million salary cap this season.

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Head coach Mike Babcock speaks with the media after Thursday's practice.

Head coach Mike Babcock addresses the media following Toronto's 4-0 loss against New York on Saturday. Опубликовано: 29 дек. 2018 г. Head coach Mike Babcock addresses the media following Toronto's Babcock shares best chirps he heard about Mitch Marner - Продолжительность: 1:02

None of those four players were at the Bell Centre Monday night as the Leafs brought a roster that looked more like the AHL’s Toronto Marlies.

“We’ve exchanged texts when it comes to that, and we’ve exchanged our lineups,” Julien said about the pre-season rosters. “But at the end of the day, I can’t control what he brings. What I can control is what I’m trying to do here with this team. Our team has to play a certain way and that’s where our focus is going to be. Not so much on who’s on the other side.”

The Canadiens and Leafs will meet again Wednesday in Toronto (7 p.m., TSN2, TSN4, RDS, TSN 690 Radio).

Since taking over from Michel Therrien as head coach of the Canadiens on Feb. 14, 2017, Julien has an overall record of 89-77-22, losing in the first round of the playoffs the first year and missing the post-season in each of the last two seasons. Babcock has a 164-123-41 record behind the Leafs bench, missing the playoffs in his first season and being eliminated in the first round in each of the last three years.

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