The Jack Adams Award can be a tricky one. Last season, the Phoenix Coyotes were pegged by many to finish last or second-last in the tough Western Conference, so when the team jumped out to a quick start, the hockey world blew it off as an anomaly.
Lo and behold the Coyotes were for real and the early flash turned out to be a sign of things to come for last year’s winner as the NHL’s best coach, Dave Tippett. The Jack Adams Award isn’t one you win year after year because once your team is established, you’re expected to win. The last coach to win back-to-back Jacks was Jacques Demers with the Red Wings in 1987 and 1988.
Not that Tippett is in the running at this point in the season. While his Coyotes start slow, we’ve seen wunderkind Guy Boucher step from the American League to the NHL seamlessly, taking a draft lottery fixture for the past few years right to the top of the Eastern Conference. The Tampa Bay Lightning haven’t been the same since winning the 2004 Stanley Cup, not even winning a playoff round since, but as they sit atop the Eastern Conference the goals are coming fast and furious, even as Vincent Lecavalier still struggles to find himself.
From a rookie coach to an experienced one, Terry Murray’s Kings lost Drew Doughty, but have been enjoying the goalie battle being waged between Jonathan Quick and Jonathan Bernier. Murray, who coached throughout the 1990s with Washington, Philadelphia and Florida, hadn’t been a bench boss in eight years when the Kings called him in 2008. Since then, the Kings have been on the rise and Murray is in the running for his first coach-of-the-year honor.
But a lot of fluctuating can still happen. Barry Trotz doesn’t need to run away with anything to be considered, Bruce Boudreau could win his second if the Caps stay strong and defensive, while other green coaches Davis Payne, Joe Sacco and perhaps even Scott Arniel have the potential to win the Jack Adams.
Team improved by 10 wins last season, but if Tampa stays at or near the top of the East all year, rookie bench boss Boucher will be the popular pick.
Continues to bring young team along and still rolling without injured Drew Doughty.
Another young team coming on strong, Jaroslav Halak has much to do with success, but Payne’s system gives up the fewest shots-against per game and gets second-most shots for.
Last year they were supposed to be too small, this year they were supposed to have unreliable goaltending, but Martin’s charges are tied with league’s third-lowest GAA.
As THN writer John Grigg mentioned, the Capitals have to win now and learn more responsible play. So far they seemed to have made the correct adjustments.
Beat out last year by Dave Tippett’s magical season in Phoenix, if Sacco can keep the Avalanche from stepping back, he’ll be in the running once again.
Another 2009-10 finalist, it’s mind-boggling the only coach Nashville has ever known has never won this award. But if he can still get them into the post-season despite all the off-season losses, he deserves a serious look…again.
Yes, he has a good team, but Babcock has been without Brian Rafalski and we all know Detroit’s goalie situation. They’re always supposed to have a “down year” because of age, but never do.
Tim Thomas has been outstanding and despite being without Marc Savard the Bruins are showing some offensive life even though Julien is known for his defensive coaching.
Chris Pronger has missed a couple of games, goalie Michael Leighton has been injured and Simon Gagne was lost for nothing in the off-season, yet the Flyers are one of three top-10 teams in both goals-for per game and against.
OUTSIDE LOOKING IN: A fast start by the Leafs has slowed considerably due to a lack of offense everyone saw coming. But that doesn’t take away from the fact Ron Wilson’s boys have become terrific defensively, allowing only 2.3 goals-against per contest on 26.5 shots-against per, second-best in the league. Other Notables: Craig Ramsay, Joel Quenneville.
THN.com's Jack Adams Trophy Watch will appear monthly throughout the season and don't miss out as we'll also regularly track the Hart, Vezina and Norris.