The NHL announced the three finalists for the Jack Adams Award on Wednesday, given to the “coach adjudged to have contributed the most to his team’s success.”
This year’s finalists are Colorado’s Jared Bednar, Boston’s Bruce Cassidy and Vegas’s Gerard Gallant.
One year after his Colorado Avalanche posted just 48 points in 82 games, Bednar led one of the most dramatic turnarounds in NHL history. The Avs’ 47-point improvement is tied for the fourth-highest year-to-year gain as the team qualified for its first playoff appearance since 2013-14. Colorado also tied for the league lead by dressing 11 rookies this season, and that group combined for an NHL-high 419 games from first-year players. The Avalanche were especially good at home, finishing with a 28-11-2 record at Pepsi Center, tying its franchise record for home-ice wins in a season. If he wins the award, Bednar would become the third Avalanche/Nordiques coach to win the Jack Adams, following Patrick Roy in 2013-14 and Marc Crawford in 1994-95.
Cassidy spent his first full season behind the Boston Bruins bench after joining the team midway through 2016-17 and finishing with an 18-8-1 record. The Bruins joined the Jets as the only two teams to finish in the top five in goals for and bottom five in goals against this season, but Boston was the only team to also finish top three in both power-play and penalty-kill percentage. Cassidy got key contributions from Bruins rookies, too, as the 58 goals scored by first-year Boston players ranked atop the league and accounted for 22 per cent of the team’s total. Cassidy is a first-time finalist for the award and is trying to become the fourth Bruins coach to win it, following Don Cherry in 1975-76, Pat Burns in 1997-98 and Claude Julien in 2008-09.
No NHL coach led his team to as many historic achievements as Gallant, whose Vegas Golden Knights became the first expansion franchise in any of North America’s big four professional leagues to win a division title right out of the gate. When Vegas won its 34th game on Feb. 1, it set a new NHL record for wins by a team in its inaugural season and they still had 32 games left on their schedule at the time. Gallant had to turn to five different goalies this season, four of whom hadn’t played more than two NHL games coming into the season. Gallant also oversaw a roster that had 11 players achieve career years, most notable being William Karlsson who finished with 78 points, an improvement of 53 over his 2016-17 output. Gallant is a Jack Adams finalist for the second time, finishing second in the voting in 2015-16 while coaching the Florida Panthers.
The Jack Adams Award is voted on by the NHL Broadcasters’ Association.
All award winners will be announced on June 20 at the NHL Awards Show in Las Vegas.