Jack Adams Award

via NHL PR

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

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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.

Poll: Who will win the 2012 Jack Adams Award?

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As reported earlier, the NHL named its finalists for the 2012 Jack Adams Award, given annually to the coach “adjudged to have contributed the most to his team’s success.”

The three nominees are: St. Louis’s Ken Hitchcock, Ottawa’s Paul MacLean and the New York Rangers’ John Tortorella.

Before we get to the poll, some things to consider…

— Unlike the other awards, which are voted on by either NHL GMs or the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association, the Jack Adams is decided by the NHL Broadcasters’ Association.

— Regarding Hitchcock (an in-season replacement): Only two coaches have ever won the Jack Adams after replacing the head coach who started the season. Philly’s Bill Barber won it in 2001-01 after replacing Craig Ramsay; Washington’s Bruce Boudreau won it in 2007-08 after taking over from Glen Hanlon.

— This is Hitchcock’s fourth Jack Adams nomination, Tortorella’s third and MacLean’s first. Of the three, only Torts has won (in 2004).

— The last St. Louis Blues head coach to win the Adams was Joel Quenneville (1999-2000), the last Senators coach was Jacques Martin (1998-99) and, surprisingly, no Rangers bench boss has ever won the award.

— For what it’s worth, Hitchcock is our favorite for this year. Posting a .703 winning percentage played a fairly big part in that decision.

Onto the poll, then…

Hitchcock, MacLean and Tortorella are your Jack Adams finalists

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In a year where a number of coaches could’ve been nominated for the Jack Adams Award, the NHL whittled its candidate list down to three today:

St. Louis’ Ken Hitchcock, Ottawa’s Paul MacLean and the New York Rangers’ John Tortorella.

A look at the finalists…

Hitchcock

The NHL’s oldest coach (60), Hitch took the Blues job on Nov. 6 from Davis Payne, who’d guided the team to a mediocre 6-7-0 start — putting St. Louis 14th in the conference. What transpired after the 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.

This is Hitchcock’s fourth time as a Jack Adams finalists (1997, 1998, 1999, all with Dallas) — he’s still looking for his first win, however.

MacLean

The rookie head coach had a tall order heading into 2011-12, inheriting a team that finished 13th in the East the year prior while working with a roster full of young, inexperienced players. This makes what MacLean did all the more impressive — he led the Sens to a 92-point season (18 more than last year) and got Ottawa into the playoffs as the No. 8 seed.

With the nomination, MacLean becomes the first Ottawa head coach become a Jack Adams finalist since Jacques Martin in 2003.

Tortorella

The 2004 Jack Adams winner (he also won the Stanley Cup that year with Tampa Bay), Tortorella took the Rangers to first place in the Eastern Conference since 1993-94 while overcoming numerous obstacles along the way. New York opened the season with a four-countries-in-10-days trip, then went on a Western Canada road swing for four games, then finally played their first home game of the year on Oct. 27. Throw in the hoopla surrounding the Winter Classic and HBO’s 24/7, and Tortorella’s accomplishments seem even more impressive.

With the nomination, Torts becomes the first Rangers head coach to be nominated for the Jack Adams since Tom Renney in 2006.

PHT Related

Poll: Who will win the 2012 Jack Adams Award?