For Cup coaches, games are easy, questions are tough
CHICAGO (Reuters) - Boston Bruins coach Claude Julien and his Chicago Blackhawks counterpart Joel Quenneville do not have all the answers but after a two-month Stanley Cup playoff marathon they know most of the questions.
They meet with the media every day, twice on game days, win-or-lose, rain-or-shine, the daily scrums now as much a part of the Stanley Cup routine as playoff beards and pre-game meals.
After four best-of-seven series and the finish line in sight the routine has become numbingly repetitive and on some days so have the questions.
"You have to start reading some transcripts here," Julien chastised the media for being asked the umpteenth time what Jaromir Jagr's presence means to the team. "I've answered that question about five times already.
"I'll answer it again," laughed the Boston coach.
Julien and Quenneville are hockey lifers.
Both are former-players, both have sipped from the Stanley Cup and own Jack Adams trophies as National Hockey League coaches of the year.
Both have developed a sharp wit and thick skins honed over decades of dealing with an increasingly demanding media.
"I think we have pretty similar personalities," said Julien. "These are two of many cities in this league that adores their sport, supports their sport, live and die for it.
"They want a championship team every year. They demand that.
"When things don't go well, sometimes the emotions get the better of people, whether it's fans, media, whatever. You have to live with that.
"I think to me, it's always been something that's part of our job description, to be able to handle that stuff.
"What you do is you go and work your way through the challenges that you have in your dressing room, not the challenges you have outside of it."
While most coaches would rather stand in front of Zdeno Chara slapshot than deal with press, Quenneville and Julien have taken their media obligations seriously offering thoughtful insight where possible.
It is a hockey conversation with a language all its own. To outsiders the men could be talking 'Klingon' as they dissect powerplays and game plans.
"I enjoy my work," said Julien. "If I could come to work every day, do this stuff, then walk out of the rink and nobody knew who I was, I'd be the happiest guy in the world.
"I love my job. I love what I do. I hate coming up here every day (the podium). But, no, it's just the way I am.
"I enjoy being around players. I enjoy the whole process of this work.
"Love my job. Just don't like the limelight that comes with it. I'm low-profile. That's just the way I am."
With the best-of-seven Final level at 2-2 and Game Five set for Saturday in Chicago, there are still some big questions but winning the Stanley Cup will answer them all for one coach.
"It's a tough business," said Quenneville. "We all know the tough parts of it.
"Job security is not the safest career choice in the world. But I think we know going in with the challenges that you can face.
"We're in a winning business."
(Editing by Ian Ransom)