With NHL Awards season near, our writers make a case for each of Paul MacLean, Bruce Boudreau and Joel Quenneville as a potential winner of the Jack Adams Award.
Which coach is most deserving of the hardware?
Paul MacLean, Ottawa Senators
To call Paul MacLean’s job in 2013 “impressive” sells what he’s accomplished short.
MacLean, who sports a 66-48-16 record in two years heading the Senators, found a way to buck the odds and guide them to the postseason again. Perhaps it was magic, or perhaps Ottawa’s front office knew that Jakob Silfverberg, Mika Zibanejad, Kyle Turris and Zack Smith were ready for their close-ups.
More likely, it was MacLean.
After all, when your captain is 40, and you lose your top-line centre and No. 1 defenceman for 77 per cent of the season, it’s awfully difficult to compete, even if you were coaching in Pittsburgh or Chicago.
Yet these are the Ottawa Senators we’re talking about. Plus, toss in Craig Anderson’s injured ankle — which kept Ottawa without one of the sport’s best net minders for exactly half the season — and it’s truly a wonder that the Sens didn’t finish with the draft’s No. 1 pick.
So credit MacLean for keeping this pesky bunch afloat. He challenged the kids, and they delivered. The 22-year-old Silfverberg played in every game. Zibanejad, 19, recorded 20 points in 42 games. Turris, only 23, filled in for Jason Spezza and led the team with 29 points.
Eric Gryba, Jared Cowen and Marc Methot subbed in by committee for Erik Karlsson, who’s sliced Achilles tendon could have been more devastating.
MacLean trusted them, along with Patrick Wiercioch, with ice time in Karlsson’s absence; and they didn’t let him down.
Plus, when the coach of the Eastern Conference’s top seed endorses you, you have my vote. – Pat Pickens
Bruce Boudreau, Anaheim Ducks
Last season, it appeared as though the Anaheim Ducks organization was going nowhere. A 25th-overall seeding in the National Hockey League, a few aging veterans (Teemu Selanne, Saku Koivu, Francois Beauchemin) and stars that were soon to be free agents (Corey Perry, Ryan Getzlaf) is not the ideal formula for a successful franchise.
Enter Bruce Boudreau.
The then recently sacked Washington Capitals bench boss joined the Ducks in December 2011, when the train was already off the tracks (Anaheim was second last in the league on New Year’s Day 2012), and talks surrounding where the Perry-Getzlaf tandem would go abounded.
Yet a chance at a full season for Boudreau meant a Pacific Division title and a No. 2 seed in the Western Conference – the club’s best finish since winning the Stanley Cup in 2007, not to mention a record that equaled the best points-percentage in Ducks history.
“He’s a player’s coach. He makes everybody feel important,” Selanne told NHL.com. “Everybody just (loves) to play for him.”
Numerous major categories improved drastically for the Ducks this season from the previous campaign, including 23rd to eighth in average goals scored per game (2.45 to 2.79) and 21st to fourth in power-play percentage (16.6% to 21.5%).
And he did it all without much in terms of outside acquisitions.
Boudreau won the Jack Adams five years ago with the Capitals, also a year after taking over the team midway through the year. – Jamie Neugebauer
Joel Quenneville,Chicago Blackhawks
When looking for the ideal Jack Adams candidate, it’s impossible to discount the coach with the best record in hockey this season.
Joel Quenneville’s Chicago Blackhawks were far and away the most dominant team in the NHL in 2013 – as proven by their Presidents’ Trophy-winning campaign.
Quenneville must’ve done some extra work during the lockout because his Chicago Blackhawks team came screaming out of the gate to start the season (21-0-3 record in first 24 games).
While it’s easy for a team for to go on winning streaks or get hot down the stretch, the Blackhawks were consistent all year long and were without a doubt the best team throughout the shortened 48-game season.
Nothing against what Paul MacLean was able to overcome in Ottawa or Bruce Boudreau did turn around the Ducks, but the Blackhawks coach needs to be rewarded for getting his team to play an elite level all season.
The Presidents’ Trophy won’t do justice for the wonderful work of Quenneville – who seems to have Blackhawks ready for another possible Stanley Cup run. They’ve finally made up for the losses of Andrew Ladd, Dustin Byfuglien, and Kris Versteeg and they’ve even gotten Ray Emery to look capable.
Joel Quenneville – he is the obvious choice.– Jeff Simmons