This Calls For A Jack Adams


The regular season isn’t over yet and the playoffs have yet to begin but that doesn’t mean we can’t start talking about end of season awards. Who doesn’t like to speculate about who’s going to be taking home some NHL hardware this season?

It’s usually a fun little debate that lets you focus your attentions away from the playoffs. Dave Hodge over at TSN has already kicked the festivities off. In one of his recent Hodgemail articles he was asked who he thought should be awarded the Jack Adams trophy and be named coach of the year in the NHL this season.

In every major professional sports league, minor league or Bantam junior hockey league, you need an exceptional coach to get you to reach your potential. You need someone to lead you, to motivate you, to tell you when to get your head in the game, to let you know when you’re not playing at your highest level, to give you a boast by telling you that you had a good shift, etc.

A great coach does all those things. They know exactly what buttons to push and when to the push them. Once players start tuning their coach out it’s pretty much the end of their tenure. We’re not saying they’re bad coaches, just that their message is no longer being heard. Just look at what happened to the Pittsburgh Penguins when Michel Therrien was fired and Dan Bylsma was brought in.

If you’ve got the right coach in place anything can happen. This year’s Jack Adams award winner will be highly deserving and beat out some pretty tough competition. A few names to throw around the Jack Adams talk include the Penguins’ Dan Bylsma, Mike Babcock of the Detroit Red Wings, last year’s recipient Dave Tippett, the Flyers’ Peter Laviolette, and Vancouver’s own Alain Vigneault.

There are other deserving coaches too, such as Barry Trotz, Lindy Ruff, Peter DeBoer (just kidding), and Jacques Lemaire. Each one deserving for different reasons.

Obviously, when talking about the Jack Adams’ award you gotta start with the coaches at the top of their divisions with Peter Laviolette and Alain Vigneault. Sure, each team has a lot of talented players leading the way but without a strong voice giving them confidence boasts or taking them down a notch when need be, who knows where they’d be in the standings. Coaching does make a difference. You don’t just magically get to the top of the conference standings. It takes a lot of work to make it to the top. The very best coaches know exactly how hard to ride their team and at what moment to put the brakes and just let them play.

Another strong factor in considering who to give the Jack Adams award to is how they dealt with injuries. The Canucks have been riddled with injuries all year round yet Vigneault has done one heck of a job keeping the team together and chugging along when a player goes down. The Flyers have been without their leader Chris Pronger since the beginning of March but they haven’t missed a beat.

Then there’s the most newsworthy injury of the season in Sidney Crosby. Not only have the Penguins been without their captain and team leader in Crosby but they’ve also been without their other best player, Evgeni Malkin. Has that slowed them down in any way or made them any worse? Surprisingly no as the Penguins have been playing some pretty decent hockey without their top two players and are currently in 4th place in the Eastern Conference. Not any coach would be able to keep their team playing at the same level after their two best players went down for a significant amount of time. Would the Canucks still be one of the best teams in the league if the Sedin twins were both out of the line-up for at least a few weeks?

Who knows?

I might not have an actual vote when it comes to the Jack Adams award but I think you have to give some pretty strong consideration, even those this might not sit well with Canuck fans, to Dan Bylsma and the bang-up job he’s been able to do with a banged-up Penguins squad.

Although you can’t rule out the head coach of the best team in the NHL in Vigneault. He might just come away with his second head coaching hardware at the end of the season after winning the Jack Adams’ award for the 2006-07 NHL season.