Claude Julien hopes his players are good teammates in more ways than one next month when the NHL tries to resume and conclude its season amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The Montreal Canadiens head coach said Friday on WEEI in Boston he’s confident players will be able to police themselves in order to ensure the league is able to complete the Stanley Cup playoffs safely. Julien wouldn’t go as far as to say he plans on disciplining players who aren’t adhering to safety guidelines, but he also hopes it doesn’t get to that point.
“I think if it happened consistently, then you have to do something about it,” Julien said on WEEI when asked whether he’d send a player home if they weren’t doing something like wearing a mask or practicing social distancing away from the rink. “There might be a player who doesn’t wear a mask, you gotta remind him ‘This is the rule’ and enforce those kinds of things. I think as an organization, you have players, you have leaders, you have all kinds of people around who will be taking it seriously.
“The policing of it will be done on its own. The players will be policing themselves, they’ll be supporting what’s being done there. Hopefully, we don’t get to that. Again, you’re talking to the extremes. If one player came in and said ‘I don’t care about the virus. I don’t believe it,’ whatever, then you definitely don’t want that player around because then he becomes high-risk for everyone that he’s involved with.”
That sort of discipline and commitment to making this work is evident from the highest levels of the sport, as the league and its owners have plenty to gain by finishing respective seasons. The guidelines are there, but if there’s any chance for this to happen, the players must be committed to making it work, and Julien is hopeful that will be the case.