On June 21st, the NHL will hold its annual awards night. This year the ceremony will be held alongside the expansion draft at Las Vegas’ spectacular new T-Mobile Arena. The nominees for the Jack Adams Trophy were announced recently so here’s a look at each nominee, and a look back at our preseason predictions.
Hats off to Babs, he did something many before him failed to do; he made the Maple Leafs relevant. Having some of the best rookies in the league helped, but it was the experience of Mike Babcock that took the team the playoffs with their best point total (95) since 2004. Like the Blue Jackets below, Babcock’s Maple Leafs are scoring more and allowing fewer. It wasn’t all plain sailing though, Leafs fans had a nerve-wracking end to the season waiting to clinch a playoff place. But if this season is anything to go by, next season will be even better.
The only nominee to have won the award before, Torts lifted the trophy after coaching the Tampa Bay Lightning to Stanley Cup success in 2004. His nomination this year was in the bag after he coached the Columbus Blue Jackets to an impressive set of franchise records. The Blue Jackets finished the season on 108 points, 15 more than their previous best. Their 16 game winning streak almost broke the NHL record and the team scored more goals and conceded fewer than in any previous full season.
The Edmonton Oilers’ appointment of McLellan in 2015 sparked little excitement outside of Edmonton, and his first season brought only the usual disappointment. In 2017 McLellan helmed the team to their first playoffs since 2006, at the time of writing, he’s the only one of the three nominees whose team is still in the playoffs. His Oilers are facing a game-seven decider in the Western Conference semi-final against the Anaheim Ducks. The job isn’t done yet, but it’s no longer embarrassing to admit supporting Edmonton.
Our Preseason Predictions
Despite having lifted three Stanley Cups with the Chicago Blackhawks; Coach Q has won the Jack Adams trophy just once. That was in 2000 when his St. Louis Blues won the Presidents Trophy with 114 points. In hindsight, even if the Hawks had progressed past the first round and won the cup, Quenneville wouldn’t have been a Jack Adams contender. After nine seasons the ingredients are all in place and capable of winning no matter who’s behind the bench.
Having taken charge of the Pittsburgh Penguins just 28 games into the 2015/16 season, the former Boston Bruins head coach led the Pens to their fourth Stanley Cup. As it stands the Penguins are still favourites to win the cup, but while coach Sullivan has been a welcome addition to the franchise; like Chicago the key parts are already in place. Any coach could win a Cup with Sidney Crosby and friends on the ice.
After leading the Florida Panthers to a franchise record 103 points and their first Stanley Cup playoffs in four seasons; Gallant was a serious contender for last year’s Jack Adams and if he could improve on last season, he’d be a shoo-in for the award this season. Only he went and got fired 22 games into the season. It’s not all bad news for Gallant; he was recently named as the first head coach of the Las Vegas Golden Knights
The wildcard. Oh boy did we get that wrong. In our defense, if the Colorado Avalanche had put a shift in and actually tried, instead of tanking, then Bednar could have had a chance. Coaches who turn around weak teams are prime Jack Adams material but the Avs chose failure and misery. Keep an eye on Bednar though…