The Jack Adams Finalists and the Snubs
By Alexander Monaghan
Earlier today the NHL announced their finalists for the coach of the year, otherwise known as the Jack Adams Trophy. The three chosen — Alain Vigneault of the Vancouver Canucks, Barry Trotz of the Nashville Predators and Dan Blysma of the Pittsburgh Penguins — are the consensus amongst the decision makers as they represent a blueprint for how to properly perform their duties.
Trotz, who received his first nomination last year before losing out to Dave Tippett, may very well win the award as his Preds try to squeak by the heavily favored Canucks. Blysma essentially gets consideration mainly due to winning without superstars Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby all season. Vigneault fills the quota for the NHL honoring the best regular season team.
However, with these nominations, there are always the snubs and this season more than most we witnessed some fine coaching. Considering only three deserving bosses get the nod we felt the need to honor the deserving.
The newly-extended Lindy Ruff did not receive a nomination despite being up for the award twice since the lockout and winning it back in 2005-2006. Behind the bench since 1997, the former Buffalo Sabres player guided his team without their best forward to a 14-4-3 record since March 1st and pushed the 2nd seed in the Eastern Conference into the seventh game. On top of that, he did it without a fully healthy Ryan Miller. His extension is well deserved and honestly in any other year likely would consider an nomination.
Likewise, Washington Capitals bench boss Bruce Boudreau likely deserves some attention for reinventing his team’s system into a well-balanced machine. Similar to Ruff, his team came on strong down the stretch, earning the top seed in the Conference. Due to the Caps winning the President’s Trophy last year, their success likely was more expected which puts a guy like Blysma higher on the depth chart. However, if Washington finished with 117 points, one would have to believe Boudreau gets the nod.
Perhaps the more glaring omission would be first year head coach and Boudreau’s second round opponent — Guy Boucher. After coming out of the QMJHL to success under the Hamilton Bulldogs, the Quebec native guided a team that did not make the playoffs and was mostly new acquisitions into not only a playoff team but a team who won their first playoff series since winning the Stanley Cup. His system kept Martin St. Louis and Steven Stamkos producing at an elite level while allowing players like Vincent Lecavalier, Ryan Malone, Teddy Purcell, Simon Gagne and Steve Downie to contribute without the pressure of being primary producers. He made a big impact in the NHL, leading pundits like Mike Corcoran of ESPN, via Twitter, to expect a nomination.
The last coach to man the bench for the Lightning winning a series was John Tortorella and the New York Rangers benefitted from his guidance this past year. Coaching a team devoid of skill and in the middle of a rebuild, Tortorella got everything he could out of his team as they made the playoffs for the second time in three years with him behind the bench. Although as Steve Zipay of Newsday remarks, via Twitter, there is very little flair in guiding an underachieving team to barely achieve anything. Regardless, his work with numerous rookies as well as developing Dan Girardi, Marc Staal, Brandon Dubinsky and Ryan Callahan into viable leaders will help their team now and in the future.
Our final mention goes out to interim coach Jacques Lemaire, who brought the New Jersey Devils within 12 points of a playoff berth. While he will not return next season and did not get the team back into the playoffs, he deserves some attention for nearly achieving the impossible.
For the most part there were several coaches deserving of nominations. The general consensus seems to be that Blysma will win the award for the first time in his career. Without his star players, the young coach earns everything he will get as he got the most out of grinders like Pascal Dupuis, Tyler Kennedy and Mark Letestu as the entire team bought into a team-first concept. Despite getting a career year out of Marc-Andre Fleury, the Pens overachieved considering their personnel, or lack there of.
Who do you think deserves the Jack Adams Trophy? Feel free to comment below with your thoughts.