Claude Julien may be many things, but the head coach of a team that targets the head of an opposing player with a concussion history, thats where he draws the line.
One day after Capitals coach Dale Hunter accused the Bruins of targeting the head of Nicklas Backstrom, Julien strongly and emphatically defended his team while taking a few shots at Hunter.
That doesnt make sense, Julien said after Wednesdays practice at Kettler Capitals Iceplex. I dont know any coach that would tell his team to go after somebodys head. Its ludicrous. Its ridiculous. Okay?
Theres always going to be emotions in games and theres things that are happening. Like I said, there were three cross-checks by the Capitals and they penalized one and suspended one.
But were not whining about the referees and whats going on here. We need to win a game and we need to win a series and thats where our focus is. Thats what it should be.
Julien is especially sensitive to the perils of concussions. The Bruins have been without Nathan Horton since he suffered a concussion in January. Patrice Bergeron missed most of the 2007-08 season with a concussion. Marc Savard has missed most of the past two seasons with a concussion. And defenseman Adam McQuaid is still suffering the effects of a Jason Chimera hit on March 29.
I can tell you right now, there is not a coach in this league not one that is going to tell his players to target somebodys head, Julien said. Concussions are a serious and sensitive thing and I think we all respect that. Anyone who thinks otherwise is totally wrong.
If something happens in a game, whether its one of our players or one of the other teams, its not premeditated. Its not something thats asked from an organization or coaches. Its something that happens in the heat of a play. Somewhere along the line everybodys got to try to educate the players to being more careful and thats what were trying to do. Theres not a game in the world that is faster than ours right now. Its easy to criticize but its sometimes tough to make those split-second decisions.
When it was suggested that Hunter may have been simply trying to protect Backstrom by turning up the heat on the Bruins, Julien said he respects that, but
I dont blame Dale for defending his player if thats what hes trying to do, Julien said. To me, thats going to war for your team. Im not going to comment on him protecting his player, but if he really believes the other way around, being accused of head hunting is ludicrous.