The Montreal Canadiens will be without head coach Claude Julien for, at least, the rest of their Eastern Conference Quarterfinal Round matchup with the Philadelphia Flyers after being admitted to a Toronto hospital following Wednesday night's game.
According to the team, Julien was experiencing chest pains that were not related to COVID-19. He is currently under observation, and associate coach Kirk Muller will serve as the interim head coach.
In a statement released by general manager Marc Bergevin on Thursday, he said:
"Good afternoon. I'm here to inform you of the reason Claude Julien was not here this morning at practice. Claude experienced chest pain during the night. We immediately consulted our doctors and it was agreed to transfer him to the hospital by ambulance. He's presently there and he's undergoing tests to determine the exact nature of his condition. This has nothing to do with COVID.
We don't expect him to be back during this series against the Flyers. Kirk [Muller>, Dominique [Ducharme>, and Luke [Richardson> will share the responsibility, however, Kirk is the associate head coach and he will assume the responsibility of head coach until Claude's return.
We understand that Kirk does not speak French, but these are exceptional circumstances and we're asking you for your understanding. Out of respect for Claude and his family, I will not answer any further questions about his medical condition."
The 17-year coaching veteran in the NHL is currently in his second tenure with Montreal after taking over for Michel Therrien more than halfway through the 2016-17 season. The 60-year-old had spent the first three years of his coaching career with the Canadiens from 2003 to 2006. Since taking over in the 2016-17 season, Julien has led the Canadiens to a 120-108-31 record in 259 regular season games coached, which included two playoff appearances in 2017 and this year.
In the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs, Julien helped lead the Canadiens to a stunning upset win as the 12th-seed in the Qualification Round over the fifth-seeded Pittsburgh Penguins. Montreal is currently trailing in their quarterfinal series with the Flyers 1-0 after dropping Wednesday's Game 1 of the series, 2-1.
Julien has also spent time as head coach of the New Jersey Devils in 2006-07, as well as the Boston Bruins from 2007 to 2017, where he won a Stanley Cup back in 2011.
Muller has been behind the bench with Julien and the Canadiens since the 2016-17 season serving in his current role as the associate coach. The 54-year-old has had head coaching experience before with the Carolina Hurricanes from the 2011-12 season to 2014, where he put up a 80-80-27 record in 187 games as their bench boss. However, none of his teams had ever clinched a spot in the playoffs.
Game 2 of the Canadiens-Flyers series is set to take place on Friday at 3 p.m. ET.