The Jack Adams Award is presented annually to the NHL coach who is “adjudged to have contributed the most to his team’s success.” Of course, that means it’s rarely given to the coach of the NHL’s best team. For example, when you’re coaching the Detroit Red Wings you’ll probably be very successful, but you’ll also probably never win this award – sorry Mike Babcock.
So who is likely to win the award this season? It’s tough to say right now because the season isn’t completed yet. But it is possible to look at some coaches who may end up being nominated.
Jacques Lemaire, New Jersey Devils
If the Devils somehow manage to make the Stanley Cup playoffs, this award is Lemaire’s to lose. When John MacLean was fired from the Devils on December 23rd, New Jersey had a 9-22-2 record and the team was the laughing stock of the NHL. Since Lemaire stepped behind the bench, the Devils have gone on a 21-10-4 run that has some people talking playoffs. Even if the Devils fail to qualify for the postseason, Lemaire may receive some consideration for the award anyway.
Dan Bylsma, Pittsburgh Penguins
It feels a little strange to be listing Bylsma here, since the Penguins have been a very successful franchise over the past few years. However, when you look at the injury situation that the team has been faced with, it’s pretty impressive that the Penguins still sit in the fourth spot in the Eastern Conference. Bylsma should be given a lot of credit for holding his team together while players like Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Chris Kunitz, Paul Martin, Brooks Orpik, Jordan Staal and others have all misses significant time this year.
Peter Laviolette, Philadelphia Flyers
If it felt strange to list Bylsma here, it’s even stranger listing the coach of the defending Eastern Conference Champions. However, Laviolette deserves to be a part of this discussion. Last season the Flyers finished with a 41-35-6 record and they snuck into the playoffs in their last game. This year they’ve already equaled their point total from last season and they’ve only played 66 games! They sit at the top of the Eastern Conference and are a definite powerhouse in the league.
Guy Boucher, Tampa Bay Lightning
Speaking of coaches who have vastly improved their teams’ performances, we have Guy Boucher in Tampa Bay. Last season the Lightning missed the playoffs with a 34-36-12 record for a total of 80 points. Right now they have a 37-21-8 record and 82 points, so they’re already ahead of last season’s mark. While the changes new general manager Steve Yzerman made to the team have certainly had an impact, Boucher’s coaching system is responsible for Tampa Bay’s turnaround as well.
Mark Crawford, Dallas Stars
Crawford coached in Dallas last season as well, which may pass the credit for the Stars’ year-over-year improvement over to someone else, but the result is the same. While going through ownership issues and financial troubles, Mark Crawford has managed to keep the Dallas Stars in the playoff picture for the entire season.
Who else do you think deserves consideration for the Jack Adams?