Coach Mike Babcock kept Detroit's long playoff streak alive by goosing a changing mix of players into a berth. (AP)
By Allan Muir
Mike Babcock of the Detroit Red Wings, Jon Cooper of the Tampa Bay Lightning and Patrick Roy of the Colorado Avalanche were named today as the three finalists for the 2013-14 Jack Adams Award, presented to the head coach who has "contributed the most to his team's success."
Members of the NHL Broadcasters' Association submitted ballots for the award at the conclusion of the regular season, with the top three vote-getters designated as finalists. The winner will be announced on Tuesday, June 24.
Here's what the league had to say in support of the three fine finalists:
Mike Babcock, Detroit Red Wings
Babcock led the Red Wings (39-28-15, 93 points) to their 23rd consecutive Stanley Cup Playoff berth, the longest active streak in North American professional sports. Detroit overcame a franchise-record 421 man games lost due to injury, headlined by the 37-game absences of star
forwards Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg. The Red Wings used 38 players during the regular season, including nine who made their NHL debuts -- the club's highest figures in both categories since 1990-91. Babcock is a Jack Adams finalist for the second time, having placed third in 2007-08.
Jon Cooper, Tampa Bay Lightning
In his first full season behind the bench, Cooper guided Tampa Bay (46-27-9, 101 points) to a second-place finish in the Atlantic Division after the club placed 28th in the overall league standings in 2012-13. The coach of Tampa Bay's AHL affiliate in Norfolk when it captured the 2012 Calder Cup, Cooper successfully incorporated several young players into the Lightning's lineup as a league-high eight rookies appeared in at least 40 games -- five more than any other club. The Lightning were 20-11-9 in one-goal games after ranking last in the NHL with a 5-12-4 mark last season, and posted 21 road wins, one shy of the franchise record.
Patrick Roy, Colorado Avalanche
The fiery Roy lifted the Avalanche (52-22-8, 112 points) to a historic turnaround in his rookie season as an NHL head coach, helping the team finish third in the overall league standings after placing 29th in 2012-13. Colorado became the first club since the NHL expanded to 21 teams in 1979 to go from the bottom three to top three in a single season. The Avalanche matched a franchise record for wins, recorded the NHL's best road mark (26-11-4), ranked fourth in the league in goals (250), and did not suffer a regulation loss when leading after two periods (35-0-3).
We say: You can't say enough about Cooper, who lost the league's best goal scorer to a broken leg and his captain to a hissy fit but managed to hold it together with a plucky group of minor leaguers, wads of Juicy Fruit and some baling wire. He has no chance of winning this award, but he's certainly deserving. Babcock faced his share of challenges, too, but somehow coaxed that 23rd straight playoff appearance out of the Grand Rapids Griffins while Zetterberg and Datsyuk kept each other company on IR. It was a remarkable bit of work from a man who is widely regarded as the league's best coach, but inexplicably has yet to claim the Adams. It's getting to the point where the league needs to come up with some sort of career achievement award to make it up to him. That leaves Roy. There's no denying the allure of a worst-to-first story or that he was the one most responsible for making it happen in Denver. He can start writing his acceptance speech now.
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