When the predictions came out at the beginning of the hockey season, a lot of the pros had the Boston Bruins as the number one team in the East, and/or as the team to beat for the Stanley Cup. Why? The Bruins core has remained intact for the better part of the last few years. The organization has only had to make minor tweaks to their roster (as opposed to other teams in the league just throwing their roster (and perhaps their sanity) to the winds in an effort to start over). Why have their been so few changes to the lineup? The players buy into the system, and a coach who can make their players do that usually leads that team to greatness.
Claude Julien has been that coach, and he deserves to be nominated for the Jack Adams this year.
The Boston Bruins finished the regular season with the best record in the NHL. They had a solid lead over the Pittsburgh Penguins in the Eastern Conference. They blew past every other team in the Atlantic Division. Did we have the best players in the game on our team. Sure we have Patrice Bergeron, Zdeno Chara, and Jarome Iginla. I don’t think any of them will win the MVP trophy though. While other teams have Sidney Crosby, Alex Ovechkin, Steven Stamkos, and Pavel Datsyuk, the Bruins were the best complete team throughout the year, and that reflects upon their coach.
To win the Adams, it’s mandatory for a coach that can read your players well. The Bruins’ bench boss does that almost by instinct with his veterans, but is able to get a solid read on his AHL call ups and trade deadline/trade additions quickly. It’s been a key to the Bruins longevity in the postseason. He knew when it was time to play rookies like Tyler Seguin and Brad Marchand in 2011, when to use Dougie Hamilton and Torey Krug in 2013, and he’s showing that skill again with AHL call up Justin Florek and newer players like Reilly Smith.
Julien knew when to motivate his team. He knew when to joke with his team. As was shown on ‘Behind the B’, he had no problem shoving a size eleven up the backside of a team that wasn’t playing to their potential as well. During Julien’s tenure, there have been isolated grumblings by certain elements that pined for his dismissal. Not many head coaches will have their owner, president, and general manager all silence even the faintest rumors with public glowing endorsements of their coach. Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli outright declared that Julien had a job in Boston for as long as Chiarelli was running the Bruins front office.
He’s certainly put up the numbers and has demonstrated the leadership and management skills needed to earn the award for the best coach in the NHL this year. Will Julien win his second Jack Adams this year though? Honestly, it’s not that likely. He has to go up against Patrick Roy. Roy worked magic on a young Colorado squad. His approach with those kids was more akin to a fellow player than a head coach. His players call him by his first name rather than his title. The Avalanche are in the cup hunt as well, a position they certainly weren’t expected to be in this season. If the Adams doesn’t go to either of these gentlemen, then it’s likely going to Mike Babcock who has kept the fire roaring under the train of the Detroit Red Wings. Twenty three straight playoff appearances and a Red Wings team that is giving the Bruins a serious run for their money in the quarterfinals.