Devils Hire Claude Julien As Coach

The Associated Press
Tuesday, June 13, 2006; 9:27 PM

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Lou Lamoriello has again looked to Montreal for a coach.

The New Jersey Devils' president and general manager hired former Canadiens coach Claude Julien as the team's new coach Tuesday, the third time the club has tapped a former Montreal coach for the job.

Both Jacques Lemaire and Pat Burns coached the Canadiens before coming to New Jersey. And Larry Robinson, who stepped down as the Devils' coach in December, was a star player for Montreal.

"It's just the way it's worked out," Lamoriello said after a news conference announcing Julien's appointment at Continental Airlines Arena. "It was nothing planned. We're delighted to have Claude here."

Lamoriello himself took over for the worn-out Robinson with the Devils in danger of missing the playoffs. New Jersey went 32-18 with Lamoriello behind the bench and captured the Atlantic Division title with a season-ending, 11-game winning streak.

The Devils swept the New York Rangers in the first round of the playoffs to push the run to 15 games, but were eliminated by the Carolina Hurricanes in five games in the second round. Carolina is now one win from capturing the Stanley Cup.

Lamoriello said he and Julien share a similar style.

"The assets he possesses are going to complement the players we have," he said.

Julien said the Devils are a team that "makes you pay for your mistakes." He said the strong team is one of the reasons he took the job.

"I'm really looking forward to working with this group of winners," he said.

Julien coached Montreal from January 2003 to January 2006, when he was fired.

He had a 72-62-10 record and helped Montreal reach the second round of the playoffs in 2004. After getting off to a 12-3-1 start this season, the Canadiens won only seven of the next 25 games and dropped from first to 10th in the Eastern Conference. They fired Julien following a 2-1 loss in Colorado in which they blew a third-period lead.

"It was easy for me to feel comfortable here," the 46-year-old Julien said. "No doubt he's left some big shoes behind that bench for me to fill."

While there had been talk that the Devils would hire John MacLean, one of their assistant coaches the past four seasons, Lamoriello said "the timing just wasn't right."

© 2006 The Associated Press