Ranking the Top Candidates for NHL's Jack Adams Award
A head coach in the NHL is assigned a great amount of duties when he first takes over a club. When he exceeds those expectations, he becomes a candidate for the Jack Adams Award.
The trophy is awarded to the coach that is “adjudged to have contributed the most to his team's success," according to NHL.com.
A few names quickly pop into mind when the discussion is brought up, but these five men exemplified what it really means to be a bench boss in the NHL.
Our ranking will be based off each coach’s biggest contribution to his team’s success this year.
Statistics courtesy of NHL.com unless otherwise noted.
5. Claude Julien, Boston Bruins
2009 Jack Adams Trophy winner Claude Julien is the only coach on this list that hasn’t surprised anyone this season. Since the Jack Adams is usually awarded to a coach that leads a surprise team to the playoffs, it is not likely that Julien will be taking home the trophy in late June.
Nevertheless, Julien is one of the most consistent coaches in the league.
In his tenure with the Bruins, which began back in 2007, he has not let his team finish a season with less than 91 points (if you don’t count last year’s lockout-shortened season). His hockey prowess has also led the Black & Gold to the longest win streak for the club since the 1970-71 season.
The 52-17-6 Bruins are on track to win the Presidents' Trophy, thanks to the job done by Julien behind the bench.
He has the opportunity to lead his team to their third Stanley Cup Final in four years and their second league championship in three.
4. Jon Cooper, Tampa Bay Lightning
This is where it gets hard. Each of these next four coaches shocked the hockey world with what they were able to accomplish over the course of the season.
In Tampa Bay, coach Jon Cooper lost his star player, Steven Stamkos, to a broken right tibia for 45 games. Remarkably, he was able to keep his team afloat since that fateful day in November and went 22-18-5 in Stamkos’ absence.
Relying on young guys like Victor Hedman and Ondrej Palat to step up in the wake of their captain's departure really helped them become better players.
Cooper also lost veteran goal scorer Martin St. Louis, but gained a gritty, hardworking forward in Ryan Callahan to fill the void right before the trade deadline on March 5.
All the pieces are there for Cooper. He has a keen eye for finding what works and a solid postseason performance from his club could earn him the Jack Adams.
3. Mike Babcock, Detroit Red Wings
Mike Babcock and his squad have been through a lot this half of the season.
Injuries have plagued this team ever since stars Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk aggravated their injuries in Sochi during the 2014 Winter Olympic Games. Including the two forwards, the Wings have seen anywhere from nine to 12 skaters out since the closing ceremonies.
They even had to resort to eight players who started out this year in Detroit’s AHL affiliate, the Grand Rapids Griffins.
However, Babcock is one of the smartest coaches hockey and he won’t let something like injuries hinder the chances of this franchise making it to their 23rd straight postseason.
He has been relying on players like Gustav Nyquist, who has netted 22 goals in 27 games.
The fact that Babcock has successfully relied upon new talent like Nyquist to make the postseason push shows why he is deserving of the Jack Adams Trophy.
2. Craig Berube, Philadelphia Flyers
Only three games into the 2013-14 season, the Flyers fired Peter Laviolette, the coach who took the team to the Stanley Cup Final back in 2010. Chairman Ed Snider was disappointed with the team’s slow start in both the preseason and regular season, which led to the hiring of a man who has close ties with both the city and the team.
So far, former Flyers goon Craig Berube has made Snider look like a hockey genius.
Berube saw the mistakes that the team who missed the playoffs last year were still making this season and knew how to correct them.
The 48-year-old head coach switched the entire Flyers system from a high paced, run-and-gun offensive team to one that prides itself on defensive play and puck control.
The Flyers stand at 39-27-9 and are holding on to the last playoff spot in the Metropolitan Division.
Berube is a classic example of a coach destined for the award, but the last man on the this list has really turned things around for his team.
1. Patrick Roy, Colorado Avalanche
In May of 2013, it was announced that the coaching job for the Colorado Avalanche was to be handed over to one the most legendary figures in the teams history. The former four-time Stanley-Cup-winning goaltender took the team and ran with it.
They now sit at 48-21-6 with 102 points, after missing the past two postseasons.
Roy has done a fantastic job of creating confidence within this team. He is seeing his players perform at 110 percent every single shift, especially the young guys like captain Gabriel Landeskog and predicted Calder Trophy winner Nathan MacKinnon.
His experience as one of the best goaltenders in the game seems to have rubbed off on current Avalanche goalie Semyon Varlamov. The 25-year-old Russian currently leads the league with 38 wins and has an exceptional .925 save percentage.
Roy has cemented himself as one of the best goaltenders to have ever played the game and now has the chance to climb the ranks of the NHL’s most elite coaches. That title may be far down the road for Roy, but a convincing postseason performance will be the first stepping stone.
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