2013 NHL Awards: Quenneville’s Shot of Jack?

This week, we’ve made the case for a number of Blackhawks to win major NHL awards after this season. We discussed the credentials of Jonathan Toews for Selke, Patrick Kane for Lady Byng and Brandon Saad for Calder.

Now, let’s look at whether or not Joel Quenneville has a chance at the Jack Adams.

Q

The Jack Adams Award is annually given to the league’s Coach of the Year as voted by the National Hockey League Broadcasters’ Association at the end of the regular season.

Quenneville has won the Jack Adams once before in his career. After leading the St. Louis Blues to the Presidents Trophy in the 1999-2000 season, a year in which the Blues posted 114 points in the regular season and won the Central Division; the Hawks finished third in the division that year with 78 points in 82 games.

This year, the Quenneville-led Blackhawks have a chance to equal (and even pass) the total points put up by that Chicago squad; they have 70 points through 42 games entering Friday night’s game. And, like the St. Louis team Quenneville led that season, these Blackhawks will be the top seed in the Western Conference when the postseason begins.

But is Quenneville a lock for the award? Here are our candidates

The first candidate on every ballot should be Paul MacLean in Ottawa, and not only because he shares Quenneville’s affinity for facial hair. When you consider the injuries he has been forced to deal with this year, the Sens being in playoff contention is incredible; Jason Spezza, Milan Michalek and Erik Karlsson have played 37 total games combined.

Our second candidate is Todd Richards in Columbus. While MacLean has been forced to deal with injuries, Richards took over a perennial last place team that had just traded away their captain and has them on the cusp of qualifying for the playoffs. Certainly the players brought in from the Rangers in the Rick Nash trade have added quality depth to the Jackets roster, but the Jackets being ahead of the Red Wings in the standings with less than 10 days left in the regular season is unthinkable.

While Quenneville certainly deserves some consideration for the Jack Adams, he may not even make the final three candidates.

The Pittsburgh Penguins are pushing the Hawks for the top record in the league, and they have done it while dealing with a number of significant injuries (Sidney Crosby, Kris Letang, Evgeni Malkin and Marc Andre Fleury to name a few). Dan Bylsma could easily make the top three.

Two other names that should be on every short list are Jack Capuano and Adam Oates. Oates has quietly pushed the Washington Capitals back to the top of the Southeast Division this year, while Capuano’s Islanders may qualify for the playoffs for the first time since the 2006-07 season.

JackThe Winner: MacLean

It’s hard to look past the best record in the league, and all of the special things the Blackhawks have done this year. But it’s just as hard to make a case that Quenneville has been the best coach in the league this year.

Certainly missing Marian Hossa and Patrick Sharp for some time has forced Quenneville to mix up his lineup (not that he needs an excuse to do that), but the injuries dealt with in other cities this year, and the emergence of the Islanders and Blue Jackets as playoff teams after spending most of the last decade as losers, make the field for the Jack Adams a crowded one.

What MacLean has done without arguably his best three players this year has been remarkable. A lot of credit should be given to the scouts and front office in Ottawa for giving him some fantastic rookies to help fill the enormous gaps left by injured superstars, but it’s been MacLean calling the shots on the ice.

Our second finalist for the Jack Adams Award this season would be Capuano in New York. The third would be determined by the final week of the regular season. Richards would get the nod if Columbus makes the playoffs; if not, we would give the third spot to Pittsburgh’s Bylsma.

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8 Responses to 2013 NHL Awards: Quenneville’s Shot of Jack?

  1. Tim G says:

    I would personally put Q just ahead of Bylsma. … but I think you have it right Tab. MacLean/Richards/Capuano are the front runners.

  2. Tails says:

    How can you not even mention Michel Therrien? My three finalists would be MacLean, Therrien, and Quenneville.

  3. Tab Bamford says:

    re: Bylsma – look at the number of games missed by Crosby, Letang and Malkin. Then consider they’re only four points behind the Blackhawks entering Friday. Pretty remarkable job in Pittsburgh this year.

    re: Therrien – he wouldn’t finish ahead of anyone I named on my ballot, and I already named twice as many coaches as there are room as finalists.

  4. Mike says:

    Not to get ahead of ourselves…..But Hawks / Pens would be AWESOME.

  5. Tails says:

    I can see the argument for Bylsma and Richards over Therrien (even though I don’t agree), but I don’t think you can consider Capuano or Oates stronger choices than Therrien. Last year Montreal was last in the Eastern conference, only better than Edmonton and Columbus. Then they fired their head coach and brought in Therrien in the off season. Now Montreal is 2nd in the East. And that’s without any major personnel changes. Yes, they haven’t been playing as well lately, but that’s strong credentials for the Jack Adams. For Oates, Washington was already a playoff team last year. He had more to work with, and as of now the Capitals would barely qualify for the playoffs. For Capuano, bringing the Islanders into playoff contention is an achievement, but his team had a better record than the Canadians last year, and they’re only in 7th place right now.

  6. Sr. Brad says:

    Tab, I’m always very interested to hear your point of view on everything, and most often we agree…but I think on this one, I have to go with Q…he’s had basically the same team for the past 2 seasons (who have underachieved) and has essentially found a way to make them “perfect” this season…because with Sharp and Hossa in the lineup, this team has not lost a single game in regulation or OT…and in a strike shortened season, playing only the uber TOUGH western conference teams this is an incredible feat. In the off season Q was told by MGT that the talent was there, and that he wasn’t getting any further significant help…he had to win with this lineup…and that’s exactly what he’s done. I know Emery and CC have done a good job this season, but let’s not kid ourselves, we don’t have the luxury of “carry a team on your back” goaltending like the Kings, Ducks, Blue Jackets, Blues, and others seem to get. Q’s system of KISS (keep it simple stupid) and fierce back checking isn’t sexy for players to buy into, but this team has…without exception…even Patrick Kane! A lot of people have attributed this to Kane’s time in Switzerland, but I think more than anything it’s come from Q, and his grassroots approach to hockey.

    I know that the other coaches you mentioned are very deserved…no doubts! But Q has done EVERYTHING right this season…including leaving the lines alone and letting chemistry develop…trusting in Brandon Saad through the first month when most of us were calling for Saad to be dumped to the 4th line. For taking a step back approach with Leddy that has paid off in cherries. For having the courage to split up the D pairings when they went into an extended slump. For spelling Rozy when most of us have been calling on him to play every night. For bringing up the Rockford kids and sticking with them, allowing them to develop confidence in their game. For turning Frolik into the energizer bunny, and getting the absolute most out of him. For nursing injuries and not forcing anyone back early, thereby passing the leadership role onto others.

    With the full lineup he’s been perfect, and without it, we have a few 1 goal losses as the only blemishes on this remarkable season.

  7. alikatze says:

    Hm, I scratch my head at the Bylsma over Q scenario – sure, Pittsburgh has had some significant injuries, but they also have a General Manager willing to shell out large sums of cash to get terrific back up for those injured players. I think what Q has accomplished, without Bowman spending significant cash to get hot players, is a much greater achievement. Coach Q has sorted out his lines and gotten terrific play out of almost all members of the team. I think perhaps MacLean is the only one who should challenge Q for the award – but, even then, I’d have to look at where the Hawks have been all year (compared to Ottawa) – I think that puts Q over the top for the honor.

  8. Mike T says:

    I think it would be a poor decision and a snub if Quenneville does not at least get the nomination. Yes the Blackhawks have talent and yes they have had less injuries than say Ottawa but as of right now they are the only team in the League that could finish the season with a points percentage of 80% or higher. There have only been 5 teams in League history that have finished a season with a points percentage of 80.0% or higher, the 1929-30 Boston Bruins 87.5%, 1943-44 Canadiens 83.0%, 1976-77 Canadiens 82.5%, 1977-78 Canadiens 80.6%, and the 1944-45 Canadiens, three of those five won the Cup.

    Coach Q currently (before the Phoenix game) has the Hawks with an 83.7% points percentage on pace for a 137 point season in an 82 game season. To put a little more prospective into this achievement, the best percentage the Edmonton Oilers ever had was 74.4% they did it twice (with that #99 guy) in 1983-84 and 1985-86, Toronto’s best season was 1950-51 they finished with 67.9%, the Islanders with those great early eighties teams had a best of 73.8% in 1981-82, even Jack Adams himself had a best percentage as a coach of 67.0%.

    I have heard some question whether or not coach Q had to do much with the Hawks. To this argument I say what were the D-pairings at the start of the season and what are they now, what is the Hawks 2nd line I have watched 42 of the Hawks 43 games this year and all I can say is yesterday it was Kruger, Bolland, and Kane. The Hawks injuries have not been as bad as Ottawa’s (hopefully all team will get and stay healthy) but Bolland, Hossa, and Sharp have all missed significant time and they are all top 6 forwards not to mention Crowford and now Emery. Speaking of are goalies coach Quenneville has done a nice job managing the Hawks net minders to the lead for the Jennings with 5 games left. The Hawks are a talented team they are also young and have already set an historic points streak to start a season, they have dealt with injuries, and are on pace for one of the greatest regular seasons in the history of the League and all that does not happen to a team no matter how talented without top quality coaching.

    Boom Boom Boom
    Lets Go Hawks!!!

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