April 29, 2011
Every season, the Jack Adams Award has a field of several coaches that all deserve consideration for best of the year. But the 2010-11 season produced a few candidates that were exceptional; and one of them, assumed to be a lock, didn't make the cut.
Dan Bylsma of the Pittsburgh Penguins, Barry Trotz of the Nashville Predators and Alain Vigneault of the Vancouver Canucks are the three finalists for the 2010-11 Jack Adams Award, presented to the head coach who has "contributed the most to his team's success."
Members of the NHL Broadcasters' Association submitted ballots for the Jack Adams Award at the conclusion of the regular season, with the top three vote-getters designated as finalists.
Our first reaction, as it probably was for many: Where the hell did Guy Boucher of the Tampa Bay Lightning go?
He was seen as a lock for a finalist spot, at least through the midway point of the season; taking a moribund Tampa Bay team, applying his 1-3-1 system to it and challenging for the Southeast Division title. But as the Lightning faded in the second half, apparently so did his candidacy, despite the obvious and tangible impact he had as a rookie coach -- like a 23-point turnaround in the standings.
Who wins the Adams, and who was your biggest snub?
Why Dan Bylsma Deserves the Jack Adams
From the NHL:
Bylsma, a first-time Adams finalist, helped the Penguins (49-25-8) gain home-ice advantage in the opening round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the third consecutive season under his direction, securing the fourth seed in the Eastern Conference. The Penguins earned the second-most points (106) and victories (49) in franchise history, overcoming a total of 350 man-games lost due to injury in the process. Most notable were the prolonged absences of star centers Sidney Crosby(notes) and Evgeni Malkin(notes), who missed most of Pittsburgh's final 35 games. During that stretch Pittsburgh posted a 20-11-4 record for a .629 points percentage.
Simply put, it's the most impressive coaching job in the NHL this season, outside of Jacques Lemaire's run with the Devils that ended outside the playoffs. He changed tactics, managed personnel expertly and guided what could have been a team plummeting to the playoff bubble to home ice in the playoffs. The confident, emotionally balanced guy that we saw work the room during "HBO 24/7" wasn't an editor's creation — Disco Dan's got the goods.
Why Barry Trotz Deserves the Jack Adams
From the NHL:
Trotz guided the Predators (44-27-11) to the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the sixth time in the past seven seasons, finishing fifth in the West after the most competitive Conference race in League history. The Predators again employed stingy defense and balanced scoring to finish in the West's top eight; they ranked third in the NHL in team goals-against (2.28) and had their four top scorers (Sergei Kostitsyn(notes), Martin Erat(notes), Patric Hornqvist(notes) and Shea Weber(notes)) separated by just two points. Trotz is an Adams nominee for the second consecutive season, finishing runner-up to Dave Tippett of the Phoenix Coyotes in 2010 voting.
Back-to-back nominations means his reputation for working magic in Music City is growing faster than the region where his neck should be. It wouldn't surprise us to see Trotz win, because frankly it's overdue; and this season, he managed to guide a team that, on paper, looked desperate for offense not only to the playoffs but to 213 goals, just four off of last season's pace.
Why Alain Vigneault Deserves the Jack Adams
From the NHL:
Under Vigneault, the Canucks set franchise records this season with 54 wins and 117 points en route to capturing the Presidents' Trophy as the League's top regular-season team. They ranked as the best offensive (3.15 goals per game) and defensive (2.20 goals-against average) club and also had the League's top power play (24.3 percent), while narrowly missing out on being the top penalty-killing squad as well (85.6 percent, tied for second). Since arriving in Vancouver for the 2006-07 season, Vigneault has led the Canucks to four Northwest Division titles and as many seasons of at least 100 points.
There was a moment this season when it looked like the Canucks might lead the league in goals for, against, power-play and penalty killing success. That hadn't been done in the expansion era -- and three out of four ain't bad -- and Vigneault deserves credit for organizing his admittedly deep roster to accomplish it.
There have only been two coaches in the last 15 years to win the Presidents' Trophy and the Jack Adams; will Vigneault join them?
Bylsma. The guy who does the most with the least usually wins this award, and with due respect to what Trotz did in Nashville, taking Crosby and Malkin off the Penguins and going 20-11-4 is pretty damn miraculous.
Boucher was a total snub; not so Jacques Lemaire, who certainly deserved praise but, ultimately, didn't coach his team to the playoffs. And that's mandatory here.