Jack Adams Award

PHT Morning Skate: Beware the bumbling Rumble Bees

Welcome to the PHT Morning Skate, a collection of links from the NHL and around the hockey world. Have a link you want to submit? Email us at phtblog@nbcsports.com.

Return to play/NHL Playoffs

• Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and other officials have expressed some willingness to work with the NHL in the hub city process. Will it be enough, though? Ben Kuzma looks at it from Vancouver’s perspective. [The Province]

• On Wednesday, PHT looked at how the top four teams in the East and West will approach the Round Robin for Seeding. Here’s another chance to check out the article that inspired those posts. [NBC Sports Boston]

Brad Richardson shares his experience being exposed — but seemingly not infected — with COVID-19. The story ends with some optimism about Richardson getting extra time to heal because of the pandemic pause. [Arizona Republic]

Awards talk, Rumble Bees, and other hockey links

• You see, John Carlson wants the Norris Trophy. But he doesn’t need it. I feel like the Rolling Stones should write a song about that feeling. [The Hockey News]

• Carlson missed out on a chance to score 90 points, a rare feat for a defenseman. In David Pastrnak‘s case, he lost a chance to reach 50 goals and 100 points. Which missed milestone bugs him the most? [Bruins Daily]

• Could Mike Sullivan sneak up on Alain Vigneault for the Jack Adams Award? Hopefully Sullivan doesn’t startle Vigneault in the process, right? [NBC Sports Philadelphia]

• Islanders goalie Ilya Sorokin remains stuck in a “holding pattern” regarding whether he can join the team from Russia or not. Sorokin’s agent Daniel Milstein explained that frustrating situation. [AMNY]

• Ally Koss went in-depth with Brady Hackmeister on the process behind designing the Henderson Silver Knights’ logo. They discuss how the design breaks with but also evokes design choices related to the AHL affiliate’s parent team, the Vegas Golden Knights. [Hockey By Design]

• Chris Peters tells the story of the Battle Creek Rumble Bees of the Federal Prospects Hockey League. Peters describes the FPHL as “the lowest rung of professional hockey in the U.S.,” so does that make the 1-45-2(!) Rumble Bees the lowest rung of the lowest rung? I’ll need to start doing some counting on my fingers, let me get back to you. (That said, Rumble Bees is a great team name.) [ESPN]

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

Islanders’ Barry Trotz claims Jack Adams Award

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Barry Trotz left the Washington Capitals after guiding them to a Stanley Cup championship and took over a New York Islanders’ squad that many people didn’t believe in. His team shattered expectations though with their 48-27-7 record and for that he was named the Jack Adams Award winner Wednesday night. The trophy is given annually “to the coach voted as the best in the NHL” by the NHL Broadcasters’ Association.

When Trotz took over the Islanders, they were coming off a 35-37-10 and they would be moving forward without their former captain and best player in John Tavares. Despite that, Trotz guided the Islanders to the playoffs for the first time since 2016 on the strength of their defense and goaltending.

This is the second time that Trotz has won the Jack Adams Award. He previously claimed it with the Washington Capitals in 2016. The only other bench boss to ever win the award twice is Al Arbour.

Trotz also surpassed Arbour for fourth place in the all-time wins list as a head coach during the 2018-19 campaign. Trotz has 810 wins, putting him behind just Ken Hitchcock (849), Joel Quenneville (890), and Scotty Bowman (1,244).

You can view the full vote below:

Ryan Dadoun is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @RyanDadoun.

Ovechkin’s Richard reign continues, and more early NHL Awards

via NHL PR
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The NHL announced the winners of three regular season trophies following the conclusion of the 2018-19 season. Interestingly, all of these announcements could be paired with additional trophies when the full 2019 NHL Awards roll around following the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

The Art Ross Trophy: Nikita Kucherov won the scoring title, generating 128 points, a new single-season record for a Russian-born player. There are a bunch of great facts about Kucherov’s season in this post.

There’s a strong chance Kucherov will eventually bring home the Hart Trophy as league MVP, too. In addition to that, Kucherov’s teammate Andrei Vasilevskiy is a strong candidate to win the Vezina Trophy, and his coach Jon Cooper could very well land the Jack Adams. (I mean, probably not, but there’s a sizeable number of people who believe that he’s deserving.)

Of course, the Lightning also locked up the Presidents’ Trophy as the top team in the NHL back in March.

Maurice Richard Trophy: Alex Ovechkin scored 51 goals to become the first player to win this award as the top goal scorer on eight different occasions. It wasn’t easy, though, as Leon Draisaitl pushed it to the limit by finishing with 50 goals himself.

This infographic tells a nice story about how 2018-19 was a strong season for scorers

In case you’re wondering, 18 of Ovechkin’s 51 goals came on the power play.

William Jennings Trophy: Thomas Greiss and Robin Lehner helped the Islanders allow an NHL-low 196 goals this season, putting together similarly splendid stats to win this trophy for fewest goals against.

The league’s blurb captures just how remarkable this turnaround was for Isles goalies:

Lehner and Greiss both finished the season among the top five netminders in goals-against average and save percentage. That helped the Islanders, who gave up 296 goals in 2017-18, become the second team in NHL history to allow the fewest goals immediately following the season in which it yielded the most. The original Ottawa Senators first accomplished that feat in 1918-19, the second season in League history (when there were only three teams).

Of course, the fascinating chicken-and-the-egg discussion revolves around: “How much was this turnaround about those goalies, and how much was it about the work of Barry Trotz and Mitch Korn?” Trotz is a virtual lock for the Jack Adams this year (sorry, Cooper and others), so chances are, both the goalies and their coach will come away with hardware for their work during the 2018-19 campaign.

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

Blues head coach Ken Hitchcock wins Jack Adams

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Prior to this season, Ken Hitchcock had been nominated for the Jack Adams three times in his career but had never taken home the award.

Turns out the fourth time was a charm.

Hitchcock captured his first-ever coach of the year trophy at the NHL Awards show on Wednesday night, beating out fellow Adams nominees Paul MacLean (Ottawa Senators) and John Tortorella (New York Rangers).

The win caps off a truly remarkable season for the NHL’s oldest head coach. Hitchcock, 60, had been out of the NHL since Feb. 2010 before taking over a struggling Blues team that was 6-7-0 and in 14th in the Western Conference.

What transpired after the November takeover was one of the greatest in-season turnarounds in franchise history, as the Blues went 43-15-11 to finish the year atop the Central Division (first win since 1999-2000) and second overall in the Western Conference.

With the win, Hitchcock becomes the fourth coach in St. Louis history to capture the Jack Adams, joining Red Berenson (1981), Brian Sutter (1991) and Joel Quenneville (2000).

Hitchcock reflects

Hitchcock had plenty to say about winning the award, especially when it came to connecting with young players. That meant finding ways to connect with players, which perhaps wasn’t that difficult since Hitchcock said that he enjoys “their music.”

(He wouldn’t name any names, but he raved about watching concerts on the Palladia network. Go ahead, imagine Hitchcock listening to The Arcade Fire now.)

“I pride myself in being current,” Hitchcock said. “More than anything I’m fascinated by this age group because Generation Y, the big thing is ‘why?’ They ask that question every day. They don’t just do what they’re told, they want to know why … this generation is making us as coaches more accountable than we’ve ever been in our life. If they don’t buy what we’re selling, they’re not going to go and play for you.”

Hitchcock did an interesting job putting that Blues team in perspective. Interestingly enough, he said that the best team he ever coached was the 2004 Philadelphia Flyers, not one of the Dallas Stars squads. His best work as a bench boss might surprise some people, too.

“The best job we’ve ever done as a staff was the one in Columbus when we went to the playoffs,” Hitchcock said. “That team over-achieved every day.”

This might have been his first Jack Adams, but you got the feeling that the nod was as much a validation of a great body of work than a singular achievement. Still, Hitchcock gives every indication that we haven’t seen the best of this Blues team – but that might require some of his best work, too.

Which coaches got snubbed for the Jack Adams?

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So, the list of nominees for this year’s Jack Adams Award is coming under fire.

To be fair, this happens with almost every major award — Flyers fans are still complaining about Claude Giroux and Paul Holmgren not getting nominated for the Hart and GM trophies, respectively — but the coach of the year thing is a different situation entirely.

There could’ve been as many as six legit nominees, including the following:

Kevin Dineen, Florida Panthers

Harvey Fialkov of the Florida Sun-Sentinel calls Dineen’s Adams omission “shocking”:

Dineen took about 12 to 17 new players (at some point in the season) and took them from 15th in the Eastern Conference last season into a division champion for the first time in franchise history. Although the award is voted on before the playoffs, he also had his team one goal away from the conference semis.

A team that has no superstars and no 30-goal scorers notched 94 points and ended a 10-season playoff drought. A team that had as many injuries as any team in the NHL (or close to). Did I mention it was Dineen’s first season as an NHL head coach?

Possibly reason why Dineen wasn’t a finalist? Because Panthers general manager Dale Tallon was nominated for GM of the Year, and largely credited as thearchitect of Florida’s turnaround.

That said, this logic didn’t keep voters from nominating the St. Louis duo of Ken Hitchcock and Doug Armstrong.

Dave Tippett, Phoenix Coyotes

Tippett won the first division title in Jets/Coyotes franchise history after losing the likes of Ilya Bryzgalov, Ed Jovanovski and Scottie Upshall. That said, it would’ve been hard to give him coach of the year on the strength of 97 points, especially when he won the award in 2009-10 with a 50-25-7 record and 107 points.

Barry Trotz, Nashville Predators

Lost in the hoopla of David Poile’s flurry of activity was the fact Trotz coached Nashville to the third-best season in franchise history. That’s really impressive when you consider 1) how lethal the Central Division was this year, and 2) how many new faces he integrated into the lineup (he also had to deal with both Kostisyns, which should get him some sort of UN humanitarian award.)

Of course, Trotz had been nominated in each of the two previous seasons…and didn’t win. I guess you only get so many bites at the apple.