Vancouver Canucks\' head coach Alain Vigneault smiles as he speaks to the media following a team practice at the TD Garden in Boston, MA, Sunday, June 12, 2011. The Bruins will play the Vancouver Canucks in game 6 of the Stanley Cup hockey final on Monday in Boston. Vancouver leads the series 3-2. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
BOSTON - This has been a Stanley Cup final that comes in both official languages.
After every media availability with Vancouver Canucks coach Alain Vigneault and Boston Bruins coach Claude Julien during the series, a handful of reporters have stayed behind for another round of questions in French.
In fact, many of the most interesting quotes have come out of the sessions where the coaches have been speaking in their native tongue.
Julien saved some of his harshest words for Canucks agitator Maxim Lapierre for the French press. Prior to Game 3, the Bruins coach told French reporters that Lapierre's on-ice antics are despised by his own team as much as those he plays against.
"It's one of the reasons he played for three teams this year," Julien said.
The French reporters promptly went straight to Lapierre, one of several prominent bilingual players in the series, to get his reaction.
Vigneault earned a few laughs from on Sunday when he elected to answer a question about the ongoing Roberto Luongo-Tim Thomas debate in French after earlier declining to do it in English. Luongo had caused a stir after Game 5 when he suggested he would have stopped the only shot that beat Thomas.
"If you look at the comment as a whole, what he said was flattering toward Thomas, but you guys (in the media) took only the part that made it a headline," Vigneault said in French.
It's the first time in NHL history that both coaches in the Cup final have been French Canadian. The two former defencemen actually have a long history that dates back to when they played with one another for the Salt Lake Golden Eagles in the Central Hockey League.
They also found themselves in a similar position this year under intense pressure to get their teams over the top.
"I think we both came into this season pretty much under the same situation," Vigneault said. "He was in his four-year window, I was in my four-year window. We both knew we had good teams, we both knew we had to win. So from that standpoint, I'm real happy for him. ...
"I've known him a long time and we both know what coaches go through on a daily basis and a yearly basis."
Believe it or not, they were even a sounding board for one another from time to time. While that communication naturally stopped during the Stanley Cup final, it won't be surprising if they share a few words in the handshake line when it's all said and done.
"I think this year, more than any other year, we were very supportive of each other—knowing the demands of both organizations and hoping to have those teams in the Stanley Cup final," Julien said. "I know Alain had his (tough times) here in Vancouver. I certainly had mine in Boston.
"The expectations were very high."