TORONTO — Claude Julien’s surprise hiring as Canadiens coach on Tuesday afternoon certainly jolted the hockey world and also impacted the Islanders’ world.
The Islanders had not requested permission from the Bruins to speak to Julien, who was fired by Boston on Feb. 7. But other teams had and the Canadiens stealthily moved to bring back a coach who was behind their bench from 2002-2006, when he also replaced Michel Therrien in a midseason move, as happened Tuesday.
But Julien was certainly on the Islanders radar for their coaching vacancy. Doug Weight has been a strong coach in the interim since Jack Capuano was fired on Jan. 17 but that likely wasn’t going to preclude team management from talking to other candidates, as it did with Gerard Gallant earlier this season.
Now one of the marquee names is off the market. That could bode well for Weight, for Gallant or possibly for Ken Hitchcock, who is also available after being fired by the Blues last month.
Cizikas facing Martin not easy
Casey Cizikas and Matt Martin were among the closest friends on the Islanders as teammates the past five seasons so Cizikas seemed a bit relieved that Tuesday night was the last of the Isles’ three meetings with Martin’s Leafs.
“It doesn’t get easier,” Cizikas said of facing his good friend. “We’re both very competitive people and we’ll do whatever it takes to win. It can be fun. We know what type of player he is, we know what he brings to the table.”
Cizikas and Martin gave each other a few stick whacks during the Isles’ 6-5 overtime win over the Leafs on Feb. 6 and Martin was always known as an expert chirper on the ice. “We had a little battle,” Cizikas said, “but nothing I can repeat.”
Prince day to day
Alan Quine returned to the lineup Tuesday night with Shane Prince staying behind on Long Island for this quick trip. Prince suffered an upper-body injury in Sunday’s win over the Avalanche, likely during a third-period scrap with Nikita Zadorov after the big Avalanche defenseman cross-checked Prince along the wall.
Cal Clutterbuck (lower body) skated back home on Tuesday but is still not ready to return and Travis Hamonic (knee) still has not resumed skating.
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