Montreal Canadiens head coach Claude Julien says he is feeling “100 per cent” after undergoing a heart procedure during the Stanley Cup playoffs.
Julien had a stent installed in a coronary artery Aug. 13 at St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto after complaining of chest pains.
The procedure came a day after Montreal opened its first-round playoff series with the Philadelphia Flyers at Scotiabank Arena.
“To be honest with you it really felt like it was heartburn, so after a while when it didn’t want to go away, I just reached out to Graham (Rynbend), our medical trainer, and just told him about it,” Julien said Wednesday on a teleconference with reporters.
“After talking with him we decided it was safer to head over to the hospital and get checked out a little closer. In doing that, they found one of my arteries was partially blocked, and that they needed to put in a stent. That got done right away, and I couldn’t have asked for better care at St. Michael’s Hospital. They were awesome.”
Julien said he didn’t suffer a heart attack and was ready to return to work had the Canadians defeated the Flyers and advanced to the second round of the playoffs. Montreal pushed heavily favoured Philadelphia to six games before their impressive run in Toronto came to an end.
“Came back to Montreal just to rest, and had we won Game 6 Friday night, I was on my way back to Toronto for that day quarantine and would have been definitely ready for the next round,” Julien said.
Associate coach Kirk Muller took over behind the bench in Julien’s absence. The 60-year-old Julien said Muller did a great job in charge and stuck with the formula that led to the Canadiens’ four-game upset of Pittsburgh in a best-of-five preliminary-round series.
Julien said he talked with Muller daily during the Philadelphia series, but didn’t try to impose his style on the other Montreal coaches while he was away.
“Putting myself in his shoes, I wouldn’t want to be told how to coach. So Kirk coached the way he thought was the best way to coach,” Julien said.
“There was no doubt in my mind that they were going to do a good job behind the bench, so kudos to them.”
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Julien said he doesn’t expect his lifestyle to change too much after the procedure, outside of some adjustments to his nutrition and exercise regimens.
“I’ve had some chats with other coaches in the league that have had that situation done to them, and they’re still behind the bench doing their work,” he said. “I’m 100 per cent recovered right now, and there’s no reason why I shouldn’t be able to go back to work.”
Julien said his family is supportive of his decision to get back behind the bench.
“I don’t think I would ever put myself in jeopardy of risking my life to do something that I love doing, just because I want to do it,” he said. “I think there’s been a lot of thought and there’s been a lot of discussions around whether I go back or not.”