The 2012 NHL Awards show is set to take place on Wednesday night from the Encore Theater in the Wynn Las Vegas.
Among the awards that will be handed out is the Jack Adams Trophy, which is, according to the NHL, “presented by the National Hockey League Broadcasters' Association to the NHL coach adjudged to have contributed the most to his team's success.” The broadcasters make their selection at the end of the regular season, meaning that playoff accomplishments are not considered when selecting the best coach in the NHL.
The award was first presented in 1974, when Philadelphia Flyers coach Fred Shero took home the honors.
Let’s take a look at what these coaches accomplished and who’s the favorite to take home the award on Wednesday night.
When the 2011-12 NHL season began, the St. Louis Blues were expected to make the playoffs after suffering through an injury plagued 2010-11 that saw them finish in 11th place in the Western Conference with 87 points.
When the team began the season with a record of 6-7-0 the organization acted swiftly, firing Davis Payne and picking up Ken Hitchcock to lead the team. The choice was somewhat controversial as some saw Hitchcock as an old school coach that would not fit in well with today’s more player-friendly NHL.
Those that offered that opinion couldn’t have been more wrong, not only did Hitchcock work in St. Louis, he worked exceptionally well, finishing the season with a record of 43-15-11, which helped the team win the Central Division.
Hitchcock exceeded expectations this season and has set the bar very high for himself and his club heading into 2013.
On Wednesday night the odds are in favor of Hitchcock taking home his first Adams Trophy, he has been a runner up in the past.
When you have your name etched on the Stanley Cup, expectations are fairly high that you will be able to deliver another. When the team you lead goes out and signs the most highly sought after free agent on the market, the pressure kicks up a notch in the deliverable department. Such was the situation that NY Rangers head coach John Tortorella found himself in entering the 2011-12 NHL season.
Tortorella had been climbing the standings in the two previous full seasons that he worked behind the bench in New York, moving from fourth to third, and expectations were high for him heading into 2011-12. A step back after the Rangers went out and signed Brad Richards most likely would not have been tolerated, but the team didn’t need to worry about that as Tortorella led them to a first place finish in the Eastern Conference with a record of 51-24-7, an improvement of 16 points over the previous season.
Some deride the coaching style of Tortorella, but his in your face manner gets results. Unfortunately for him, those results will not be enough to earn him a second Jack Adams Trophy.
Hitchcock and Tortorella had high expectations as the head coaches of their respective teams, but the same could not be said of the Ottawa Senators' Paul MacLean. Heading into the 2011-12 season, if you looked at a preseason prediction piece, the odds were that the Senators were pegged to finish dead last in the Eastern Conference.
This past season was looked upon as a rebuilding year for the Senators and rookie head coach Paul MacLean would surely have been forgiven had the team finished in the basement, especially since the team he inherited had put up an abysmal 74 points during the 2010-11 season.
However it seemed as if MacLean didn’t get the memo with the heading of “Ottawa Senators rebuilding in 2011-12” when he was hired, as he took the team to the eighth spot in the Eastern Conference with a record of 41-31-10, racking up 92 points in the process.
No one, and I mean no one, saw that coming from the Senators and the bar will be set high for the team next season. For now, MacLean can bask in the glory of what he accomplished in Ottawa.
I would say that MacLean may get some votes for his accomplishments, but he is the long shot of the three in the running for the Adams Award.