Two days after the defending champion Washington Capitals were eliminated by the Carolina Hurricanes in the first round, the NHL announced its finalists for the Jack Adams Award, which is given to the head coach who has “contributed the most to his team’s success” during the regular season.
Former Capitals head coach Barry Trotz, who led Washington to the Stanley Cup and left the team over the offseason due to a contract dispute, is one of three finalists for the award along with the Lightning’s Jon Cooper and the Blues’ Craig Berube.
Trotz, along with goaltending coach Mitch Korn and associate coach Lane Lambert, led the New York Islanders to a 48-27-7 record during the 2018-19 season, finishing one point behind the Capitals for the Metropolitan Division title. The Islanders’ 103 standings points are the most they’ve had as a franchise since the 1983–84 season.
Many analysts left the Islanders for dead before the season after losing their best player, John Tavares, in free agency. Instead, the team rode the second highest PDO in the league to an unlikely playoff berth. The Islanders had the highest save percentage in the league (92.5 percent). Islanders’ goaltender Robin Lehner was nominated for Vezina Trophy. The duo of Thomas Greiss and Lehner also combined to win the Jennings Trophy after giving up the fewest goals total during the regular season.
In June, Trotz resigned from the Capitals in search of more money, and signed a five-year deal with the New York Islanders, joining Lou Lamoriello on Long Island.
Despite winning back-to-back Presidents’ Trophies with the Capitals, Trotz did not get an extension before the 2017-18 season and was a lame-duck coach. Trotz was almost fired twice during the regular season. After defeating the Columbus Blue Jackets in the first round of the 2018 playoffs, the coach told John Tortorella “I’m gone. I’m gone. I’m not coming back.”
General manager Brian MacLellan promoted Todd Reirden into the team’s vacated head coaching position weeks later. While the Capitals won the division and Alex Ovechkin had one of his best seasons as a pro, the Capitals did not make it past the first round of the playoffs for the first time since the 2013–14 season where they didn’t qualify at all.
Caps GM Brian MacLellan on if coaching change from Trotz to Reirden impacted season:
"They're different coaches, they have different styles with the way they go about it. Are we saying that we underperformed because we had a rookie coach? I don't think so"
— Tom Gulitti (@TomGulittiNHL) April 26, 2019
Trotz, who finished the season fourth on the NHL’s all-time coaching wins list (810), has now been nominated for the award four times. Trotz won the award as head coach of the Capitals during the 2015-16 season.
NEW YORK (April 26, 2019) – Craig Berube of the St. Louis Blues, Jon Cooper of the Tampa Bay Lightning and Barry Trotz of the New York Islanders are the three finalists for the 2018-19 Jack Adams Award, presented to the head coach who has “contributed the most to his team’s success,” the National Hockey League announced today.
Members of the NHL Broadcasters’ Association submitted ballots for the Jack Adams Award at the conclusion of the regular season, with the top three vote-getters designated as finalists. The winner will be announced Wednesday, June 19, during the 2019 NHL Awards™ presented by Bridgestone at Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino in Las Vegas.
Following are the finalists for the Jack Adams Award, in alphabetical order:
Craig Berube, St. Louis Blues
Named head coach on Nov. 19 with the Blues in 30th place in the NHL (7-9-3), Berube helped the club surge to a third-place finish in the Central Division by going 38-19-6 the rest of the way. The Blues went 30-10-5 (65 points) from Jan. 1 to the end of the regular season, accumulating the most points among all NHL teams in that span. Among the highlights: a franchise-record 11-game win streak from Jan. 23 – Feb. 19 and a 12-1-1 record in February, tying a franchise mark for wins in a calendar month. Berube, a first-time Jack Adams finalist, would become the fifth coach in Blues history to take home the trophy, joining Ken Hitchcock (2011-12), Joel Quenneville (1999-00), Brian Sutter (1990-91) and Red Berenson (1980-81). Hitchcock was the last Jack Adams winner who took the coaching reins midseason.
Jon Cooper, Tampa Bay Lightning
Cooper guided the Lightning to 62 victories, tied for the most in NHL history with the 1995-96 Detroit Red Wings. The Lightning’s 128 points (62-16-4) ranked fourth in League history, behind only the 1976-77 Montreal Canadiens (132), 1995-96 Red Wings (131) and 1977-78 Canadiens (129). The Lightning became the first team in NHL history to record at least 30 home wins (32-7-2) and 30 road wins (30-9-2) in a season; scored 325 goals, the most by any team in 23 years; and recorded a +103 goal differential, the highest by any team since 2005-06. Tampa Bay finished the season with the top power play (28.2%) and penalty kill (85.0%) units. Cooper, a Jack Adams finalist for the second time following a third-place finish in 2013-14, is vying to become the second coach in Lightning history to capture the award (John Tortorella, 2003-04).
Barry Trotz, New York Islanders
Trotz, who joined the Islanders in 2018-19 after leading the Washington Capitals to the Stanley Cup last season, helped his new team post a 23-point improvement over 2017-18 and yield a League-low 196 goals. The Islanders, who gave up 296 goals in 2017-18, became the first NHL team in a century to allow the fewest goals immediately following the season in which it yielded the most. Trotz, who finished the season fourth on the NHL’s all-time coaching wins list (810), has been voted a Jack Adams finalist for the fourth time. He finished second and third, respectively, in consecutive seasons with Nashville in 2009-10 and 2010-11 and captured the award with Washington in 2015-16. He looks to join legendary Islanders bench boss Al Arbour (1978-79) as the second Jack Adams winner in franchise history.
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