Claude Julien played twelve seasons of professional hockey from 1980 – 1992 between the American Hockey League (AHL), International Hockey League (IHL), Central Hockey League (CHL), and National Hockey League (NHL). During the 1986-87 season, Julien was elected by his Fredericton Express teammates to serve as the team’s PHPA Player Representative. His vision for the PHPA and demonstrated leadership abilities soon earned him the elected position as President of the PHPA player Executive Committee; a post he held for three seasons until his retirement after the 1991-92 season. As President, Julien initiated discussions towards an education program for players which is now known as the Career Enhancement Program, helped set up a severance trust fund for players, as well as a licensing program to help protect player likeness rights, among many others.
“Being recognized by the Professional Hockey Players’ Association and receiving this award is a tremendous honor and one I am truly thankful for,” said Julien. “Our collective goal at the PHPA was to improve the relationships between all parties involved in the game of hockey. I am proud that the vision we had for the Association became a reality and that many of the ideas and major initiatives we worked on helped advance relations between the leagues, management, and players.”
“I have some great memories from my playing days, including the chance to travel, see different cities, and I feel that playing within the development leagues is a great advantage, and one that helped me get to where I am today,” said Julien. “You certainly gain a stronger appreciation of what it means to pay your dues, and for a lot of guys, it helps them reach the next level as learning to play in those conditions makes them become better players and people.”
When recounting his experiences with the PHPA, he cautioned that being a Player Representative and Executive Committee Member is not for everyone. “Some people have a better voice, a stronger presence, and stay on top of issues more than others. The key for the PHPA is to have the right people as Player Representatives. They need the right players who want to make a difference and want to help out.”
After his retirement as a player, Julien transitioned into coaching, winning the Memorial Cup with the Hull Olympiques of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League before coaching three seasons with the Hamilton Bulldogs, sharing AHL Coach of the Year honors in 2003. He has held NHL Head Coaching positions with Montreal, New Jersey, and Boston where he was awarded the Jack Adams Trophy as NHL Coach of the Year in 2009, and won a Stanley Cup in 2011.
“My involvement with the PHPA helped me learn how to work with management, which is a very important aspect of being a Head Coach,” said Julien. “In coaching, you are dealing with many people each day, and making a big impact on each player. You have to know how to deal with people on a day-to-day basis.”
“There are very few people who have been as instrumental in advancing the Association and it’s Members’ rights as Claude Julien,” said PHPA Executive Director Larry Landon. “We shared a common vision as to where the PHPA could go, and his passion and commitment were significant in allowing us to create a strong foundation on which we have built today’s PHPA.”