Claude Julien reached a significant career milestone Saturday afternoon — and he didn’t even know it.
The Boston Bruins’ 4-2 win over the Minnesota Wild was the 55-year-old coach’s 500th career victory, making him just the 23rd coach in NHL history to achieve such a feat. When questioned about his accomplishment after the game, however, Julien said it was news to him.
“To be honest with you, my phone kept buzzing, and after I got back to the office, I said, ‘What’s going on here?’ ” the coach said in a postgame interview with NESN’s Jack Edwards and Andy Brickley. “All these texts are coming in about my 500th win, and I had no idea, honestly. So, it’s hard to share those kind of things when you don’t know it. (But I’m) happy about it, obviously, and as I always say, I’m looking for 500 more. It’s a lot of fun doing what I’m doing right here, and this group of guys right here — at times — certainly have a way to make you proud.”
We’re going to assume Julien also did not know he was the fourth-fastest coach to reach 500 wins. Only Scotty Bowman, Mike Babcock and Toe Brooks needed fewer games to do so than Julien’s 915, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
“He’s earned it,” Bruins winger Brad Marchand told reporters, as aired on “Bruins Overtime LIVE.” “He’s been around for a long time, and he’s a great coach. We all really like him in here, and he’s really allowed this team to come together. And it’s tough anytime you have so many new guys, but the way we’ve been able to come together, I think it’s because of the system he’s put in place, and he knows how to coach different guys and how to treat different guys at different times.
“I know he’s personally helped me a lot, allowed me to grow and become a better player. That’s why he’s stuck around for so long.”
Some additional notes from Saturday’s action:
— Winger Loui Eriksson reached an impressive career mark of his own in the win, scoring the 200th goal of his career to give Boston a 3-1 lead in the third period.
“It’s big,” Bruins center David Krejci told reporters of his teammate’s accomplishment. “That’s a big number, actually. There’s not many guys in the league that have 200 goals. He’s had a good career so far, so hopefully he can keep it up and put some more goals in the net.”
Eriksson ranks third on the Bruins with 18 goals this season and second with 43 points, and he’s one of just two Boston players to appear in all 55 of the team’s games this season.
The game also was the 700th of Bruins forward Max Talbot’s career.
— Joonas Kemppainen returned to the Bruins’ lineup for the first time since Jan. 26 after being recalled Friday from the American Hockey League.
“I think he needs to be more involved,” Julien told reporters before the game, via the Boston Herald. “He was great defensively. We have no complaints about him defensively. But we’d like to see a little more than just a penalty killer and just being a good defensive player. We want to see a little more of the other side of him, to have the confidence to go and make plays, that kind of stuff. That’s what we’d like to see more from him and if he does that it will help his game a lot.”
Kemppainen, who in December missed 11 games with an upper body injury, played in three games for Providence in the first AHL stint of his career, tallying one shot on goal and posting a minus-1 rating. The Finnish center logged 13:27 of ice time against the Wild and helped shore up Boston’s penalty-killing unit with star two-way center Patrice Bergeron sidelined with an undisclosed injury.
“The last month wasn’t that good for me,” Kemppainen told reporters, via the Herald. “I had the injury and stuff like that, but I was (in Providence) and I got some of my confidence back and it’s great to be here.”
Thumbnail photo via Bruce Fedyck/USA TODAY Sports Images
Thumbnail photo via Boston Bruins head coach Claude Julien