The NHL announced the three finalists for the Jack Adams Award, which is handed out annually to the league’s coach of the year. This season’s trio is Rod Brind’Amour (Carolina Hurricanes), Dean Evason (Minnesota Wild), and Joel Quenneville (Florida Panthers).
The award is voted on by the league’s broadcasters, with the top three vote-getters being announced as the finalists.
Winners of the league’s awards will be announced during the semifinal round and Stanley Cup Final, with dates and times still to be announced.
The case for Brind’Amour
The Hurricanes had one of their most successful regular season performances during the 2020-21 season, winning the NHL’s central division and finishing in third place overall in the league standings.
They have made the Stanley Cup Playoffs in each of his first three seasons as the Hurricanes’ coach, winning a round in two of them, including the 2020-21 season where they eliminated the Predators. In his first season, they defeated the defending Stanley Cup champion Capitals in the First Round on their way to an Eastern Conference Final appearance.
But focussing on this season, the Hurricanes won their first division title since the 2005-06 season, were one of the league’s most dominant teams on special teams, and have built a core that is among the league’s best.
He would be the first Jack Adams winner in the history of the Hurricanes’ franchise, and is only the second coach to be a finalist (Peter Laviolette finished in second place during their Stanley Cup winning 2005-06 season).
The case for Evason
In his first full season as Minnesota head coach, the Wild put together one of the most impressive regular season performances in franchise history.
Their .670 points percentage was the best in team history, and it came in a year where they played in a division with three of the league’s best teams (Colorado, Vegas, St. Louis) filling up half of their schedule. The Wild finished the season in third place in the West Division, trailing only Colorado and Vegas who finished tied for the best record in the league.
Along with their win total and playoff appearance, the Wild also had one of their most exciting seasons, finishing with the highest goals per game mark in franchise history.
All of that came after the Wild missed the postseason a year ago.
The case of Quenneville
In his second season behind the Panthers’ bench, Quenneville helped guide the Panthers to the best regular season performance in franchise history. There is a strong argument to be made that this was the best team in Panthers history.
In Quenneville’s first two years as Panthers coach they have set franchise records for highest goals per game average in franchise history.
This year, though, they took a huge step forward overall and were one of the league’s top teams all season, and were in a back-and-forth race with Carolina and the Lightning for the top spot in the Central Division, and they did that while not having their top defenseman — Aaron Ekblad — for a significant portion of the second half.
They ended up losing a First Round matchup with the Lightning in six games, but have built a strong foundation to build on and raised the bar significantly for future seasons.
2021 NHL Award Finalists:
Vezina Trophy: Marc-Andre Fleury, Philipp Grubauer, Andrei Vasilevskiy
Ted Lindsay Award: Sidney Crosby, Auston Matthews, Connor McDavid
Calder Memorial Trophy: Kirill Kaprizov, Alex Nedeljkovic, Jason Robertson
King Clancy Memorial Trophy: Kurtis Gabriel, Pekka Rinne, P.K. Subban
Lady Byng Memorial Trophy: Auston Matthews, Jaccob Slavin, Jared Spurgeon
Selke Trophy: Aleksander Barkov, Patrice Bergeron, Mark Stone
Willie O’Ree Community Hero Award: Renee Hess, Kevin Hodgson, Howard Smith
Bill Masterton Trophy: Matt Dumba, Oskar Lindblom, Patrick Marleau
Norris Trophy: Adam Fox, Victor Hedman, Cale Makar
Hart Trophy: Connor McDavid, Auston Matthews, Nathan MacKinnon