NEW YORK — Alain Vigneault, who led the Vancouver Canucks to the NHL’s best record during the regular season, was named a finalist for the Jack Adams award, given annually to the league’s top coach.
Under Vigneault, Vancouver posted a 54-19-9 record for 117 points to capture the Presidents’ Trophy as the NHL’s top regular-season club. Vigneault is a third-time finalist for the award, winning it with Vancouver in 2007 and finishing second in 2000 while with the Montreal Canadiens.
Vigneault said being named a finalist is the result of a team effort.
"I think that’s always a reflection on the quality of the players, the quality of the coaching staff and management that you work with," said Vigneault. "It’s really a team recognition."
Dan Bylsma of the Pittsburgh Penguins and Barry Trotz of the Nashville Predators were named as the other finalists in voting conducted by members of the NHL Broadcasters’ Association.
The winner will be announced June 22 at the NHL’s awards banquet in Las Vegas.
Vigneault grinned when reminded earlier this week there were suggestions he could be fired if Vancouver lost to Chicago in the opening round of the playoffs.
"I didn’t hear anything about that," he laughed.
Asked about what his strengths are as a coach, Vigneault said he’s become better at using his staff.
"I’ve had some great people work with me," he said. "I think I’m pretty good at understand my staff’s strengths and weaknesses and helping them make me look really good."
Canuck forward Alex Burrows said Vigneault deserved to be a finalist.
"It’s well deserved obviously," said Burrows. "He’s been with group for a long time. He had done a good job all year with us.
"You can see by the way how many points we racked up, our special teams, it’s well deserved and hopefully he will get it."
Bylsma, a first-time finalist, guided Pittsburgh (49-25-8) to the playoffs for the third straight year. And he did so despite being without captain Sidney Crosby and star forward Evgeni Malkin due to injuries.
Even so, the Penguins earned the second-most points (106) and victories (49) in franchise history in spite of 350 man-games lost to injury.
"It’s an honour to be nominated," Bylsma said. "It’s humbling to think of the opportunity I’ve had, the organization I’ve had an opportunity to coach in and to be mentioned for coach of the year in this league — humbling is what I feel.
"I take a step back and shake my head a little bit and feel how fortunate I am. This team and this group of players, what they’ve done this year, I feel like I watched them give a lesson in working hard, diligence, perseverance and being a good hockey team. I’m fortunate to have coached this team."
Under Trotz, the Predators (44-27-11) reached the Stanley Cup playoffs for the sixth time in seven seasons. Trotz is a finalist for the award for the second straight year, finishing as the runner-up to Dave Tippett of the Phoenix Coyotes.
"One of the things I’m most proud of is that Barry’s been the only coach we’ve ever had," said Predators GM David Poile. "The guy’s a terrific coach.
"He’s got better and better every year. The only thing that’s better than that is he’s a better person. He relates to the players. For a general manager he’s perfect to work with."
Predators captain Shea Weber agrees, noting that Trotz made the most of the roster he was given.
"Last summer we lost big free agents but he still found a way to get us to perform and get in the post-season and hopefully further this year," said Weber.
Trotz remains modest though, saying it’s more of an organizational award.
"As coaches we always get too much blame for the losses and too much credit for the wins, it’s really a group effort," said the veteran coach. "I have not made a save in this league, I have not scored a goal, I have not made a hit."