BOSTON — The passing of three-time Jack Adams Trophy-winning coach Pat Burns Friday touched the entire hockey world, including Bruins head coach Claude Julien.
Julien crossed paths with Burns numerous times over the years, and followed almost an identical path in his coaching career with stops in Gatineau, Montreal, New Jersey and Boston. In June 2009, Burns presented the Adams Trophy to Julien in Las Vegas — the previous Boston winner passing it off to the newest.
Here’s what Julien had to say about his relationship with the future Hall-of-Famer:
“Well, first of all, growing up in the same area and I think when Pat turned pro as a coach, I was still playing in the American Hockey League at the time, so I knew Pat then. Obviously, I got to know him even better as we both evolved in the same coaching fraternity. You know, the one thing everybody knows about Pat was he was sincere and direct and there was no beating around the bush with him, but the part that people didn’t always see was that away from all of that, he was a really good guy.
“I know that I was fortunate enough, and I’ve said it before, to kind of follow his path. It certainly wasn’t done purposely, but I was fortunate enough to follow his path and maybe part of that has helped me become a better coach because I had some big shoes to fill along the way. When Pat leaves somewhere, he’s obviously left his print. As I said, when I won the Jack Adams I was so honored to receive it from him because I consider him a friend and at the same time, my comment was ‘if I could even accomplish what you’ve accomplished, I’ll be a really happy coach.’ I mean he’s got three Jack Adams, he’s got a Stanley Cup, you know, he’s done so much. He’s gone to teams where he’s had to kind of turn things around and those are the reasons why he’s won the Jack Adams so often is his ability to take a team that’s been in trouble and turn them into contenders, so a lot of respect for him.
“He was a guy that didn’t always get along with every player, but every player liked him and respected him. Even the guys that he had his little run-ins with, I think eventually they came around to understand where he was coming from and that’s what you do as a coach, you do what you think is best for the player, whether it makes you popular or not. Sometimes it might take a player five, 10 years to realize what he was trying to do, but eventually they do and as a coach like him, all he could do was ‘I could live with the situation for now, as long as at the end it’s understood that what I was trying to do was the best for the players.’ That to me is what Pat was all about.”