Julien heads home after stent procedure, Muller to coach Canadiens

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Claude Julien is expected to make a full recovery after the Montreal Canadiens coach had a stent placed in a coronary artery Thursday.

The procedure was performed Thursday at St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto, the Canadiens said Friday. Julien, who was returning to Montreal to recover at home, was hospitalized because of chest pains experienced after a 2-1 loss to the Philadelphia Flyers in Game 1 of the best-of-7 Eastern Conference First Round on Wednesday.

“Claude felt chest pains during the night,” general manager Marc Bergevin said Thursday. “We immediately consulted our doctors and it was agreed to quickly transfer him to the hospital by ambulance. This has nothing to do with COVID.

“We don’t expect him to be back during this series against the Flyers. Kirk (Muller), (assistant) Dominique [Ducharme] and (assistant) Luke [Richardson] will share the responsibility. However, Kirk is the associate head coach and he will assume the responsibility of head coach until Claude’s return.

“Kirk will have 100 percent carte blanche to make the decisions he believes necessary to help the team win.”

The Canadiens defeated the Flyers 5-0 in Game 2 on Friday to even the best-of-7 series.

Montreal captain Shea Weber said Thursday he didn’t expect a lot of changes in Julien’s absence.

“The other coaches know what our system is, they’ve put all this plan in place as well. They’re going to do a good job leading us that way,” the defenseman said. “We still have to compete the same way we’ve been going and accomplish the same things we’re trying to do.

“The biggest concern is obviously his health. We want to make sure he’s healthy first. That’s something for sure we can draw on and use that … we were motivated in the first place, but this could just draw a little bit more out of that.

Julien is in the fourth season of his second stint as Canadiens coach; he also coached them from 2002-03 to 2005-06. In seven total seasons with Montreal, he is 192-170-46 with 10 ties.

In 17 seasons as an NHL coach with the Canadiens, New Jersey Devils and Boston Bruins, Julien is 658-440-148 with 10 ties. He’s 13th in NHL history in wins, and his 1,256 games coached are 18th. He guided the Bruins to the Stanley Cup in 2011 and won the Jack Adams Award voted as the NHL coach of the year in 2009.

Calgary Flames coach Geoff Ward, an assistant under Julien in Boston, said he was shocked by the news.

“Not only do I feel for Claude and his family, but also the organization and the team,” Ward said. “It has ripples when something like this happens. He’s such a great person. He’s a great coach. I’m sure his presence around that team will be missed, but right now I think everyone’s thoughts are with Claude and that he’s healthy and doing well.

“When it’s a good friend, it’s not a good thing to hear.”

Muller is in his fourth season as associate coach of the Canadiens after being an assistant with Montreal from 2006-11. He coached the Carolina Hurricanes for three seasons from 2011-12 to 2013-14, going 80-80-27 in 187 games.

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