The NHL continues to release the finalists for their major regular season award, this time naming the three men that are in contention for the Jack Adams Award, presented to the coach who has “contributed the most to his team’s success” and voted on by the NHL Broadcasters Association. Last year’s winner was Rod Brind’Amour of the Carolina Hurricanes, but we’ll have a new name engraved this season.
Brunette could win the award without actually even having any job security, as he is still technically only an interim head coach. Taking over from Joel Quenneville, when the Panthers were in first place, he didn’t miss a beat and took the team to an incredible 51-18-6 record under his watch, winning the Presidents’ Trophy. A huge number of Florida players experienced career-best seasons under the rookie head coach, as his high-flying style led to almost unstoppable offensive pressure.
Often, this award goes to the coach who takes a team to the largest gap between expectation and result. That might be the case for Gallant, whose young Rangers were expected to challenge for the playoffs but have become so much more than that. With a 52-24-6 record on the year, New York finished eighth in the entire NHL, their best season since 2014-15. It shouldn’t surprise anyone at this point that Gallant can get outstanding results out of an overlooked roster, after taking the Vegas Golden Knights all the way to the Stanley Cup Final in their inaugural season. Even in that year–when Gallant won the Jack Adams–the Golden Knights had a worse winning percentage than these Rangers.
For all the success that Sutter has had behind the bench, this trophy has eluded him over the years. The two-time Stanley Cup-winning coach has nearly 800 total wins under his belt but has only ever been a finalist for the award once before, way back in 2004 during his first go-round in Calgary. The Flames experienced a huge turnaround under his watch, going from a .491 winning percentage last season, to a .677 and first place in the division this year. Despite having some high-flying offensive talent, it was the buy-in on the defensive end that Sutter is so known for, and resulted in the Flames allowing just 206 goals against, third best in the league.
Tomorrow, the league will continue their announcements with the three finalists for the King Clancy Memorial Trophy.