PHT is spending Christmas listing the best teams, the most disappointing teams, and making our mid-season awards picks. Because what better day than Christmas to infuriate readers with our opinions!
Jack Adams Award
Mike Halford: Claude Julien, for one of the most impressive coaching performances in recent years. I mean, think about it: The GM that hired him got fired, then the new GM hemmed and hawed for a month before retaining him, which Julien recognized as a tepid vote of confidence. B’s brass wanted higher tempo, quicker transitions and more scoring. So, Julien delivered. Boston currently boasts the NHL’s best power play, third-ranked offense and went into the break one point back of Atlantic Division-leading Montreal. On top of that — and this is always going to be the hallmark of Julien’s teams — the B’s have gotten significantly better defensively as the season has progressed. With a revamped roster that lost some key pieces in the offseason, that’s some coaching right there.
Jason Brough: I respect your Julien pick because you didn’t just look at the standings and choose the coach of a “surprise” team. It’s ironic; good coaches will always preach process over results, yet that’s not how voters have approached this award. The past few years it’s been way too focused on the results, often with no discernible proof the coach had anything to do with them. That’s why I’m picking Mike Babcock. The Leafs still aren’t winning many games, but they are so much more structured and competitive this year. The reason they’re still losing is simple: they don’t have enough talent, their goaltending has let them down, and they still have a lot to learn. Babcock is working with what he’s been given — which wasn’t much — and he’s doing a great job.