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Takin' a T/O. with B.T.: An NHL Executive of the Year Award? Yes, Please!

xx yySenior Writer IJune 3, 2009

DETROIT - MAY 25:  Detroit Red Wings Consultant Scotty Bowman watches the Pittsburgh Penguins practice for the 2008 NHL Stanley Cup Finals at Joe Louis Arena on May 25, 2008 in Detroit, Michigan.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

The end of the year awards in professional sports are a source of pride.

While many fans dismiss them as simply stocking the cabinets of those at the forefront of any league's success, every year there are a handful of awards that mean a little something extra—and a few recipients that surprise us.

The NHL has always done an excellent job of recognizing hockey excellence. The Lady Byng trophy recognizes a player who brings only respect to the ice for himself and his opponents, while being able to keep up with a rapidly changing sport.

The Bill Masterton trophy is an emblem of perseverance, of a player overcoming adversity to simply play the sport he loves and stay close to the game at times of inner darkness.

From there, the NHL also recognizes past members with a Lifetime Achievement Award, recognizing their lifelong commitment to the sport, the Mark Messier Leadership Award for exemplary leadership, the NHL Foundation award, and the King Clancy Award for community involvement.

Even the NHLPA gets involved in the recognition of its players, awarding the Lester B. Pearson trophy to one outstanding player as deemed by his peers.

But there's one trophy awarded each year that isn't given to any of the players: the Jack Adams award—or in other sporting circles, the Coach of the Year award.

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In a lot of other leagues, the coaches benefit from being around great players that are able to take control of a game. It seems that, in some of these sports, it's awarded simply based on record and standing alone—I'm looking at you, Mike Brown of the Cleveland Cavaliers.

In the NHL though, it seems more about what the players and the coach were able to accomplish together. Take for example, Bruce Boudreau leading his team from a disappointing beginning to a playoff finish last year.

Did he have Alexander Ovechkin? Sure, he did (and you basketball pundits are probably saying "Well that's like LeBron James and Mike Brown"), but this team had missed the playoffs three years prior to 2007-08.

Claude Julien is nominated this year and for good reason: He pieced together a young roster, had them concentrate on a goal, and took them to a level no one expected.

While the NHL awards a trophy for a coach's ability to interact with his players in a positive manner, there's another award that sparks discussion around other leagues and acknowledges someone similar: an Executive of the Year award.

Long-time NHL GM Brian Burke said this is a concern he's raised with the league since he worked with them in 1994. 

Frankly, he's right.

I've never been a huge fan of Burke or his policies (ironic, seeing as he's the GM of the Leafs now), but the idea for an NHL Executive of the Year award is a straight-forward, yet brilliant one.

Whenever a team is on the hot seat due to a disappointing season or a slow start, blame will shift from the coach (whose job it is to win those games) to the GM, because it's his responsibility to put the pieces in place for a team to be competitive.

When it doesn't work, he's a goat and the fodder of countless pieces slamming him on the internet, newspapers, radio, and TV.

But what about when he does his job well and creates a well-oiled machine that works in sequence with the coach?

Well after 12 years of it, you'll start to get some recognition—just ask Ken Holland and Jim Nill.

With the NHL wringing its hands over so many other silly rule changes and worrying about the future of franchises, this is a fairly simple decision to make. Give the general managers their due.

The hardest part is coming up with a name, and even that doesn't seem too hard:

The Scotty Bowman Award.

Go figure: A decision for the NHL that doesn't seem to require a lawyer.


Bryan Thiel is a Senior Writer and an NHL Community Leader for Bleacher Report. If you want to get in contact with Bryan you can do so through his profile or you can email him at bryanthiel74@hotmail.com. You can also check out his previous work in his archives.

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