Jack Adams Award: Mike Babcock vs. Jon Cooper vs. Patrick Roy

Mike Babcock of the Detroit Red Wings, Jon Cooper of the Tampa Bay Lightning and Patrick Roy of the Colorado Avalanche are 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," the National Hockey League announced on Tuesday.

The award is voted on by members of the NHL Broadcasters' Association, because they have a great vantage point for line changes and some of them even get to work between the benches, DOC AND EDZO…

The top three vote-getters are your finalists. Last season, Paul MacLean won the award. This season, someone will win it for the first time, too.

In keeping with tradition, all three nominees either overcame significant injuries and/or low expecations.

Who wins the Jack Adams?

Why Mike Babcock Deserves The Jack Adams

From the NHL:

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.

The second time … 445 career wins and he’s been up for the Jack twice. That’s just criminal. Luckily, he made the playoffs coaching what amounted to the AHL Grand Rapids Griffins in March, and that’s really the easiest path to a nomination. Wonder if his Olympics performance lingered on the mind as well.

Why Jon Cooper Deserves The Jack Adams

From the NHL:

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 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 the season before, and posted 21 road wins, one shy of the franchise record.

Cooper did a brilliant job keeping his team together after Steven Stamkos’ injury, and presided over a young roster that he worked with to make the pieces fit. Was he the beneficiary of a career year from his goaltender Ben Bishop? Of course. But it’s not exactly breaking news that a coach is only as good as his goaltending. Speaking of which …

Why Patrick Roy Deserves The Jack Adams

From the NHL:

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).

Roy is just the fourth rookie coach in NHL history to lead his team to a 50-win season. You know who deserves a Costco-sized bushel of credit? Eric Duhatschek, who called Roy for the Jack back in September, later writing: “It wasn’t much of reach to think Roy could make a difference on a young but talented Avalanche team that needed better focus from its emerging nucleus and far more consistent goaltending from Semyon Varlamov. But there was also a good secondary reason - The Avalanche finished 15th out of 15 teams in the NHL's Western Conference last season, which meant there was nowhere for them to go but up.”

Who Wins The Jack Adams?

Roy. Babcock should get significant support from a broadcasting community that respects what he’s done for the last decade with nary a Jack to show for it. But 15th to first is a mountain climb that overshadows Babcock’s work in getting the Wings to the playoffs again, in a weaker conference.

Our Ballot

We’re not broadcasters – at best, talking heads paid to spew nonsense on the air for about five minutes a clip – but if we had a ballot:

1. Mike Babcock, Detroit Red Wings

2. Patrick Roy, Colorado Avalanche

3. Craig Berube, Philadelphia Flyers

4. Jon Cooper, Tampa Bay Lightning

5. Bruce Boudreau, Anaheim Ducks

As spelled out here, this was Babcock’s finest hour in a career filled with them. I don’t care if the Eastern Conference was the weaker conference this season – although I do care that there were more playoff contenders in the 16-team conference than there were in the 14-team one – it was a Herculean coaching task to make the postseason after Sochi, with Zetterberg and Datsyuk out of the lineup. And yeah, about Sochi: Babcock oversaw a season with a record number of man games lost while preparing to win a second gold medal as head coach, and with HBO cameras in his face while prepating for the Winter Classic.

That’s some heavy lifting.

What Roy did was incredible. His grubby hands are all over that roster, including his influence on Semyon Varlamov, who made a defense that looked weak on paper look above average all season. I have zero problem with him winning, and he will win, but I would also cast my vote for Babcock without a second thought.

Berube resurrected the Flyers. It’s that simple. They were headed towards a total meltdown that would have cost several jobs. He turned them into a playoff team. As impressive as Cooper’s coaching was, it boiled down to Ben Bishop carrying the Lightning vs. what the Flyers had between the pipes, which was the difference between a Vezina finalist and a slightly above average netminder.

 

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