Boudreau’s success is undoubtedly spectacular, but it’s all relative to how the other coaches are doing. Here’s an in-depth look at the competition.
Darryl Sutter, Calgary Flames
If anyone deserves to win the Jack Adams as much as Boudreau, it’s Darryl Sutter. His Calgary Flames are among the best teams in the league, despite not even making the playoffs last year.
One of the best things Sutter has done for the Flames is kickstart Johnny Gaudreau. Many thought the one-time 99-point-scorer was destined to remain a middle-six forward for the rest of eternity. He proved the haters wrong this year, however, as he currently owns 108 points with five games to go.
Gerard Gallant, New York Rangers
The New York Rangers surprised a lot of people with their success this year. After missing the playoffs by 11 points last season, and having not added much to their core group over the off-season, many expected them to persist in mediocrity this year.
This year was different, however. The Rangers already clinched a playoff spot and have their sights set high.
Igor Shesterkin dominates night in and night out. Not only is he the favourite to win the Vezina Trophy, many people also have him as their Hart candidate. Chris Kreider is at the end of a ridiculous season, having scored 50 goals already with five games left in the season. Adam Fox, once again, is playing at an elite level, and Jacob Trouba is finally living up to his contract.
A lot of that success can be credited to the individual players, but it would be foolish to think that the coach didn’t have a major part in that.
Mike Sullivan, Pittsburgh Penguins
Like the Rangers, many expected the Pittsburgh Penguins to be mediocre this year. Many even predicted that they would miss the playoffs for the first time since Sidney Crosby’s rookie year. Mike Sullivan, however, had other plans.
Despite the fact that Crosby and Evgeni Malkin both missed a significant portion of the season, Sullivan’s Penguins found ways to win games. They got good goaltending, and players like Jake Guentzel, Bryan Rust, and Evan Rodrigues pitched in offensively to compensate for the injuries.
Sullivan got the most out of his players, and that’s all you can ask of a coach.
Andrew Brunette, Florida Panthers
Andrew Brunette took over the Florida Panthers seven games into the season after Joel Quenneville resigned due to his role in the Kyle Beach situation. The Panthers were on a tear at the time of the coaching change, having not lost a single game in the season.
The Panthers continued to succeed immensely throughout the season. They currently lead the NHL in goal differential, having scored 13 more goals than the next-best team.
Brunette’s case might be broken, however, by the fact that he inherited a fully functional team. The bus was already in motion, he just had to keep the wheel steady.
Rod Brind’Amour, Carolina Hurricanes
In all honesty, Rod Brind’Amour could probably win the Jack Adams every year. He won it last year for his contributions to the Carolina Hurricanes’ third-place finish in the league, as well as their Central Division title. He gets lots of praise for sticking up for his players and for being in better shape than many of them.
The only thing hurting Brind’Amour’s case is the fact that he won the award last year. The only coach to ever win the Jack Adams in back-to-back years is Jacques Demers, who did it in 1987 and 1988. If a team is a perennial contender, the impact of the coaching staff is often secondary to the talent and depth of the roster. Therefore, the coach is often overlooked in Jack Adams voting.
What Will it Take for Boudreau to Win the Jack Adams?
If the Canucks make the playoffs, Boudreau can march into Gary Bettman’s office and pick up his trophy, no questions asked. When Boudreau took over the Canucks in December, they were in the running for the first-overall pick. Now, with five games left in the regular season, they sit on the brink of the postseason.
Bruce, if you read this, one piece of advice: Don’t get barbecue sauce on your shirt before the awards ceremony!