BOSTON (CBS) – Entering the Stanley Cup Final, Tyler Seguin had just one goal and three assists in 16 games for the Boston Bruins.
Frustrated, the third-year forward was searching for answers. So he swallowed his pride, and went to head coach Claude Julien — the man who demoted him from Boston’s second line to the third line ahead of their Game 7 win against the Maple Leafs in the first round.
“It wasn’t easy,” Segiun recalled on Wednesday, ahead of Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Final against the Chicago Blackhawks. “I contemplated a couple of times, really over a couple of days, and I just really wanted to talk to somebody.”
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“I just wanted to talk to someone and see how I could contribute,” he said. “It was frustrating not scoring goals but I wanted to create chances, and as we’ve seen in this series if your line is working hard you’ll get rewarded.”
Since his chat with Julien, Seguin is playing some of his best hockey of the season. He still has just one goal, but has recorded an assist in all three Stanley Cup Final games. He’s also doing all the little things he needs to in order to have an all-around effective game.
“He’s forechecked, done well in the battles as far as trying to come up with the puck, all the things we ask him to do,” Julien said of Seguin on Wednesday. “It’s about winning battles. Battles means coming out with the puck. Whichever way you have to do it, you go out and do it. I think he’s done a great job of getting in there and creating those situations to this is advantage.”
“I’m here for the team,” said Seguin. “I’m not scoring goals but we’re getting wins, and that’s all that matters.”
For Julien, he’s happy to have an open door for anyone that needs a quick chat — or a pep talk.
“That’s a relationship I think coaches always have to have with players, more today than ever,” he said. “There was a time back when I played that you didn’t really ever bother the coach. You either played or you didn’t; if you didn’t, you found a way to get back in the lineup.”
“Today it’s a different concept. They need guidance, you give it to them,” he said. “They know that door has always been open for conversation. Doesn’t mean they will hear what they want to hear, but they’ll hear the truth.”
Julien’s players have always said they love to play for their coach and will always go to bat for him when things are not picture perfect in Bruins Hockey, because he always does the same for them. It doesn’t matter if it’s a team or personal matter or an individual player looking for advice, Julien is there.
“He’s a player’s coach and is always there to help us find a way to improve our game,” said assistant captain Patrice Bergeron. “It tells a lot right there about what type of coach he is, what type of person he is.”
“Claude is pretty good at having an open-door policy if you have any issues; he’s willing to listen and help out,” said center Chris Kelly, now Seguin’s linemate on Boston’s third line. “It’s pretty nice to have a coach that is willing to talk to guys when things maybe aren’t going the best.”
And as for Seguin, Kelly gets to see first-hand the improvements he’s made to his game since his chat with Julien.
“I think Tyler is doing a lot of the little things that have made him a better all-around player; chipping pucks, getting into the fore-check, blocking shots,” he said, “a lot of the little things that have lifted his game to all-around instead of just scoring and making offensive plays.”
Seguin has been oh-so-close to lighting the lamp in the Cup Final, peppering Chicago’s Corey Crawford with 13 shots over the first three games of the series.
No one knows if he will finally put one by the Crawford, but if he does, no one will be happier than Claude Julien.
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