All of the finalists for the major regular season awards have been announced, meaning it’s time for the NHL to start naming winners. That will begin on Monday with the King Clancy Memorial Trophy awarded to one of Kurtis Gabriel, Pekka Rinne, and P.K. Subban.
It’s hard for fans to really know the nuances of each finalist for the first three awards that will be announced next week. The King Clancy and Masterton are given to players just as much because of their off-ice interactions and leadership as their performance during the season. The Willie O’Ree, which will be awarded on Wednesday, is given to a community hero.
So let’s look ahead a few days to Thursday and the Jack Adams Award to see what the PHR community thinks should happen. Does the honor belong to Rod Brind’Amour of the Carolina Hurricanes, Dean Evason of the Minnesota Wild, or Joel Quenneville of the Florida Panthers?
The year before Brind’Amour took over behind the bench in Carolina, the Hurricanes weren’t very good. Even though they had strong performances from young players like Sebastian Aho, Teuvo Teravainen, and Jaccob Slavin, the team didn’t have the goaltending to compete in the tough Metropolitan Divison, which had five teams finish with at least 97 points. Carolina finished the year with a 36-35-11 record, missing the playoffs. Assistant Rod took over (along with several major trades to shake up the roster) and the team took off. Three years later and Brind’Amour is a Jack Adams finalist following a 36-12-8 regular season, good for third in the NHL.
Evason perhaps performed an even more impressive turnaround in Minnesota. Sure, the Wild made the playoffs six seasons in a row from 2012-2018, but the core that took them to many of those postseason appearances was either long gone or in a dramatic decline by the time he took over in 2020. He had just a taste during the 2019-20 season before COVID shut things down, but it was obviously a good move for the Wild to bring him back. A year after losing in four games to the Vancouver Canucks in the bubble qualification round, Minnesota was reborn under Evason into an exciting, must-watch hockey club. Kirill Kaprizov has a lot to do with that transformation, but so does the rookie head coach, who posted the best winning percentage in Wild history at .670 this season. Minnesota’s record of 35-16-5 tied them with Tampa Bay for eighth-best in the league, but they just were unlucky enough to run into the powerhouse Vegas Golden Knights in the first round (and pushed them to the limit to boot).
’Quenneville was lucky enough to have one of the best young cores in the league, anyone could have won those Cups with Chicago’ said many of his detractors when he signed a massive contract with the Panthers in 2019. Maybe that young Blackhawks core was lucky to have him, too. The legendary head coach had another outstanding year behind the bench, capitalizing on some savvy front office moves from Bill Zito to take the Panthers to the fourth-best record in the NHL. Incredibly, the .705 points percentage that Florida managed this season is the second-highest of Quenneville’s Hall of Fame career, only trailing the lockout-shortened 2012-13 season (which happened to end pretty well).
Of course, these weren’t the only strong head coaching performances this season. The New York Islanders’ recent playoff run would likely make Barry Trotz the favorite, but it is of course a regular season award. Mike Sullivan of the Pittsburgh Penguins navigated injuries to nearly his entire roster and had his club in a position to do some damage in the postseason. Even someone like Rick Bowness in Dallas should get some credit for managing a winning record in a year that nearly everything went wrong for the Stars (just imagine if a handful of those 14 overtime/shootout losses had gone their way).
So, PHR faithful, we ask you who you would give the Jack Adams to this season. Is it one of the finalists, or another one of the league’s head coaches? Cast your vote and make sure to explain it in the comments!
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