A short while ago we looked at 2017’s Jack Adams Award nominees, but of the three worthy candidates, who should win? The answer is John Tortorella, the 2004 award winner deserves to win again, edging out Todd McLellan and Mike Babcock.
John Tortorella has had many critics in the past, thanks in part to his feisty relationships with his players and the press, but his management style has attracted a lot of positive attention recently and has been the focus of a series on NHL.com.
Torts’ Columbus Blue Jackets start to the season was decent, but after defeating the Tampa Bay Lightning on November 29th, the team wouldn’t lose a game until early January. This 16 game winning streak, the longest in franchise history was just one game shy of equalling the NHL record of 17 games set by the Pittsburgh Penguins.
It was division rivals Washington who ended that streak, but that run put the Blue Jackets in a great position to steal one of the Metropolitan’s playoff berths. That playoff bubble may have burst early, the Pens won the first series four games to one, ending the Blue Jackets’ Stanley Cup hopes.
What separates Tortorella from McLellan and Babcock is that the Blue Jackets don’t have an out-and-out superstar like Connor McDavid or Auston Matthews. The Oilers have built a team around McDavid and you can’t swing a cat around the Maple Leafs’ locker room without hitting a superstar rookie.
What Tortorella did well, was to get the best out of an average roster. Having players like Cam Atkinson (always a great punt for Hi Sticking) definitely helped, but Torts was able to get goals out of every offensive line, while his blueline is the second stingiest in the league having conceded just 193 goals. Only the Capitals allowed fewer.
The only time the Blue Jackets conceded fewer than 193 goals was in the 2012/13 lockout shortened season. They’ve never scored more than the 247 goals scored under Tortorella this past season. The team’s 108 points is 15 more than they’ve ever tallied.
Q: Who do you think should be the winner of the Jack Adams Award for the best coach in the #NHL?
— The 4th Line Podcast (@4thLinePodcast) May 17, 2017
It pains me to say that Torts is the best candidate, especially with Babcock and McLellan’s links to my Red Wings, but on reflection he’s made the most of the cards he’s been dealt and built a team bigger than the sum of its parts.
Who do you think should win the award? Comment below or let us know by voting in our twitter poll above.