On Wednesday the NHL announced that Toronto Maple Leafs coach Mike Babcock, Edmonton Oilers coach Todd McLellan and Columbus Blue Jackets coach John Tortorella were finalists for the Jack Adams Award.
This is given to the coach who “contributed the most to his team’s success.”
The NHL Professional Broadcasters’ Association votes on the Jack Adams Award.
So which of these guys wins the Jack Adams Award?
Why Mike Babcock Deserves The Jack Adams Award
From the NHL:
Babcock guided the Maple Leafs (40-27-15, 95 points) to a fourth-place finish in the Atlantic Division and the second Wild Card playoff berth in the Eastern Conference. The Maple Leafs, who finished 30th in the NHL standings last season, became the first team since the 2007-08 Philadelphia Flyers to qualify for the postseason the year after ranking last in the overall standings. Toronto recorded 26 more points than last season, all while becoming the first team in League history to have six different rookies each appear in at least 70 games. Babcock is a Jack Adams Award finalist for the third time, finishing second in voting in 2013-14 and third in 2007-08 with the Detroit Red Wings.
Babcock utilized Toronto’s offensive strengths and saw the Leafs score 3.05 goals per-game. He made sure to play the team’s rookies, trusting them right from the beginning of the year and never slowing his support. Babcock also helped resurrect the careers of veterans like Nazem Kadri, Tyler Bozak and James van Riemsdyk who had all been with the Maple Leafs during their lean years and had strong seasons. His faith in goaltender Frederik Andersen helped the netminder shake off early season confidence issues and find his footing when the team needed him most.
Why Todd McLellan Deserves The Jack Adams Award
From the NHL:
McLellan led the Oilers (47-26-9, 103 points) to a berth in the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the first time since 2005-06, their first 100-point campaign since 1986-87 and a League-leading 33-point improvement over 2015-16. The club stayed in the hunt for the Pacific Division title until the final day of the regular season, winning 12 of its last 14 games and posting a franchise-record nine-game home winning streak to close the season. The Oilers’ total of 207 goals-against (excluding shootouts) was
their fewest over an 82-game season since 2001-02. McLellan is a Jack Adams Award finalist for the second time, finishing third in voting with the San Jose Sharks in 2008-09.
McLellan’s ability to bring defensive responsibility to the Oilers was probably his most impressive feat this season. Edmonton’s 2.52 goals allowed per-game ranked eighth in the NHL. The prior season, the Oilers allowed 2.95 goals per-game, which ranked 27th. McLellan also put together one of the best lines in hockey during the regular season with Connor McDavid centering Patrick Maroon and Leon Draisaitl.
Why John Tortorella Deserves The Jack Adams Award
From the NHL:
Under Tortorella the Blue Jackets (50-24-8, 108 points) set franchise records for wins, points, home wins (28) and road points (51). The club posted a 32-point gain over 2015-16, jumping from 29th to 2nd in team defense (3.02 to 2.35 GA/G). The Blue Jackets reeled off 16 straight victories from Nov. 29 – Jan 3, the second-longest single-season winning streak in NHL history behind the Pittsburgh Penguins’ 17-game run in 1992-93. Tortorella is a Jack Adams Award finalist for the fourth time, tying Ken Hitchcock and Alain Vigneault for the most among active coaches. He won the trophy in 2003-04 with Tampa Bay and finished second with the Lightning in 2002-03 and New York Rangers in 2011-12.
The Blue Jackets enjoyed their best season in franchise history after notching just 76 points the previous year. Tortorella coaxed strong seasons across the board from several of his players. Cam Atkinson had a career-year with 35 goals. Captain Nick Foligno improved from 12 goals in 2015-16 to 26 last year. Center Sam Gagner had a career-season with 50 points in 81 games. Center Alexander Wennberg notched 59 points in 80 games in a breakout campaign. Defenseman Seth Jones became an all-star with a career-best 42 points and 12 goals. Jones’ blue line partner Zach Werenski was a Calder Trophy finalist with 47 points in 78 games. Tortorella also got an MVP type season out of goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky, who had a 2.06 goal-against average and .932 save percentage in 63 games
Who Wins The Jack Adams Award
Mike Babcock. He may have had a cadre of young talent, including Calder frontrunner Auston Matthews, but no team had further to go from last year than his Maple Leafs.
This is also a group that started the season winning two of its first nine games and saw goaltender Frederik Andersen have an .876 save percentage over that stretch. Babcock made the necessary adjustments to get everyone back on track and finish the season on a high note.
Our Overall Ballot (in alphabetical order)
Who Should Win The Jack Adams Award
Babcock. He is universally known as the best coach in the NHL but has never won this award. Babcock pushed a lot of the right buttons, stayed patient and was rewarded with an unexpected playoff berth.
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