Take one look at Barry Trotz’s resume and it’s a downright shame he hasn’t been recognized for his achievements more than once.
Trotz is the only coach the Predators franchise has ever known. At the end of last season, he coached his 900th game with the team, joining Al Arbour, Billy Reay, Lindy Ruff, Toe Blake and Jack Adams as the only coaches to hit that milestone with one team.
That’s some illustrious company. Ruff, of course, is the longest tenured coach in the NHL and won the Jack Adams in 2006. Arbour is a Hall of Famer who won four Stanley Cups with some loaded Islanders teams in the 1980s, is second to Scotty Bowman with 782 career wins and he won the 1979 Adams Award just as New York’s dynasty was getting ready to take flight.
Reay, though he never won a Stanley Cup, was the leader of the Hawks through their glory years, a.k.a., the dynasty that never was. Reay’s Hawks made three Stanley Cup finals, losing each time to the legendary Montreal Canadiens. He finished with 542 career wins (11th all-time), but never won an Adams Award because it was introduced at the tail end of his career. Blake and the coaching trophy’s namesake, Adams, both came before the award was around, but both are Hall of Famers with multiple championships to their name.
And then there’s Trotz. Never blessed with the all-star rosters Reay, Arbour, Blake and Adams had and never helped by a lights-out Hall of Fame goalie capable of carrying a team like Dominik Hasek, Trotz has always got more from his teams than he should have.
Nashville has made the post-season five of the past six years and has won at least 40 games each season since the lockout. But Trotz has worked his magic with a combination of different players. He’s had four different scoring leaders over the past six seasons and could have a different leader again this season. At one time or another, the starting goalies have been Tomas Vokoun, Chris Mason, Dan Ellis and Pekka Rinne. We’ve seen players such as Marek Zidlicky, Kimmo Timonen, Cal O’Reilly and Patric Hornqvist find their game under Trotz and we may be seeing it this season with Sergei Kostitsyn and Colin Wilson.
Whoever Trotz has had at his disposal, he has found a way to effectively use them in his system. With Hornqvist’s production not improving this season, J-P Dumont falling off the map and Steve Sullivan getting older, Shea Weber is one of three defensemen in the NHL leading his team in scoring. Except, instead of breaking out with extraordinary numbers to do it, Weber’s 29 points are the second-lowest leading total on any NHL team. Yet the Predators sit fourth in the West and have won nine of 11 January games.
Sure Nashville hasn’t won a playoff round yet, but this is a regular season trophy. Trotz was nominated for only the first time last season, but this man not only deserves another nomination for the Jack Adams, he is overdue to win it for the first time.
GAME OF THE MONTH: A huge problem in Tampa Bay surrounded goaltending, so Dwayne Roloson’s first game, a 1-0 overtime win over division-rival Washington, was good to see. The Lightning shut out the Caps again eight nights later, proving that this team, which holds opponents to the third-fewest shots-against per game, just needed some consistency between the pipes.
RISING: Dallas’ power play efficiency has improved by nine positions over our last Adams Watch, while the penalty kill has improved by six spots. Friday’s loss to Calgary was the first time in 2011 the Stars didn’t earn a point, so Marc Crawford moves on up.
FALLING: The shine is coming off Craig Ramsay’s Thrashers. Losers of seven of their past 10, the more troubling development may be the fact leading scorer Dustin Byfuglien hasn’t tallied a point in nine games.
MAKING THE CASE
When out-shooting the other team, Nashville has an NHL-best .636 winning percentage
Have almost pulled back to even in goals-for/against ratio.
Yes he has a lot of noteworthy players, but Flyers began without a No. 1 goalie and were without Chris Pronger for an extended period. Flyers haven’t lost back-to-back games since the Christmas holidays.
Another coach who can’t be discredited because of the names on his roster, Babcock has led a team many expected to take a step back to near the top of the conference. Injuries to Datsyuk, Rafalski, Howard, Osgood haven’t slowed this juggernaut.
Who expected this performance to keep up? Langenbrunner trade shows Dallas is serious about taking a run at the Cup this season.
PK is among league’s best and PP, currently 10th, has been steadily improving all season.
Life without Scott Niedermayer has been rough in shots-against department, but Anaheim’s PP is second in league.
Recent skid hurts, but putting Byfuglien on defense, increasing Andrew Ladd’s responsibility and promotion of Alex Burmistrov and Anthony Stewart still great decisions.
Third in PP, ninth in PK, four of Vancouver’s 10 losses have come in two extended losing streaks.
Have found a way to get back on track without Sidney Crosby and have also won without Evgeni Malkin and Jordan Staal in the lineup this season.
OUTSIDE LOOKING IN: Bruce Boudreau - You don’t drop from the Presidents’ Trophy slot and win coach of the year honors, but Boudreau is doing well to implement a style that creates more defensive responsibility, which, the Caps hope, will translate to success when it really counts. Other notables: John Tortorella, Dave Tippett, Claude Julien, Todd Richards.
THN.com's Jack Adams Award Watch will appear monthly throughout the season and don't miss out as we'll also regularly track the Hart, Vezina and Norris.