The NHL released its finalists for the Jack Adams Award for the league’s coach of the year on Wednesday.
The three finalists are Bruce Cassidy of the Boston Bruins, John Tortorella of the Columbus Blue Jackets, and Alain Vigneault of the Philadelphia Flyers. Dave Tippett, who was instrumental in leading the Edmonton Oilers to a rebound season, was not one of the finalists.
The 2020 Jack Adams Award Finalists – given to the head coach who has “contributed the most to his team’s success.” 🏆
— NHL on NBC (@NHLonNBCSports) July 15, 2020
I had thought that Tippett would end up as a finalist, but, ultimately, you can’t really complain about any of the decisions here.
Cassidy is finally receiving recognition for the machine he’s leading in Boston and Tortorella obviously deserves plenty of praise for helping keep the Blue Jackets afloat after their entire team left in free agency last summer. Finally, there’s Vigneault, who, like Tippett, helped turn around a struggling team and turn them into a legitimate contender.
I think the reason that Vigneault got more attention than Tippett for the award is that, to outside observers, Edmonton’s turnaround will be credited to Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl. While those two players absolutely deserve plenty of praise for how they’ve carried the Oilers, Tippett also should be recognized for the work he did to improve Edmonton’s defensive game and their special teams.
Regardless, when it’s all said and done, I have a hard time seeing anybody other than Tortorella take the Jack Adams home this year. The Blue Jackets saw Artemi Panarin, Sergei Bobrovsky, Matt Duchene, and Ryan Dzingel leave in free agency and they still managed to remain competitive. Columbus also navigated injuries to key players like Seth Jones and Cam Atkinson during the season and still managed to be in a playoff position when the league was paused.
If Tortorella wins, he’ll join Pat Burns as the only coach to take home the Jack Adams three times in his career. Tippett won the award back in 2009-10 when he was the coach of the Phoenix Coyotes.