And the nominees for the 2017 Jack Adams Award are……. Mike Babcock of the Toronto Maple Leafs, Todd McLellan of the Edmonton Oilers, and John Tortorella of the Columbus Blue Jackets.
(I did a write up on Awards Predictions a little over a week ago, which included more in-depth discussion on the Jack Adams Award. You can read it here)
The Vezina Trophy is awarded to “the coach adjudged to have contributed the most to his team’s success.” This is Babcock’s third nomination for the Jack Adams, and has never won. This is McLellan’s second nomination, and has also never won. This is Tortorella’s fifth nomination, and he’s won once before.
Mike Babcock coached the Toronto Maple Leafs to a record of 40-27-15 for 95 points. He guided the Maple Leafs to the playoffs for the first time since in 4 years, which was a lockout shortened season, so really this is the Maple Leafs’ first playoff series 13 years, when only counting full seasons. Babcock coached the Leafs to a playoff team from last in the NHL last season, improving by a remarkable 26 points. They were the first team since the 2007/2008 Philadelphia Flyers to go from the worst team in the league to a playoff team. The Leafs also had a 5v5 CF% of 50.40 during the regular season, which ranked 13th in the NHL, and a 5v5 xGF% of 51.34, which ranked 10th in the league.
Todd McLellan coached the Edmonton Oilers to a record of 47-26-9 for 103 points. After finishing second worst in the league with 70 points last season, the Oilers improved to 103 points, a 33 point turnaround. In his second season with the Oilers, McLellan coached the Oilers in to the playoffs for the first time in 10 years, the longest active drought in the NHL, until now. The Oilers had a 5v5 CF% of 49.98, ranked 18th in the league, and a 5v5 xGF% of 50.09, ranked 15th in the league.
John Tortorella coached the Columbus Blue Jackets to a record of 50-24-8 for 108 points. After finishing as the 4th worst team last season with 76 points, the Tortorella coached Columbus Blue Jackets jumped up to 108 points this season, 4th in the league. This marked a turnaround of 32 points. After missing the playoffs the past 2 seasons, this team was able to finish 3rd in the stacked Metropolitan division. They were the 14th ranked 5v5 CF% team, with a CF% of 50.31, and a 14th ranked xGF% of 50.13.
And the winner is……
Mike Babcock. It’s not often that the worst team in the NHL makes the playoffs the very next year, and Mike Babcock was a large reason while the Maple Leafs had such a quick turnaround. Despite finished last this past season, the Leafs had good underlying numbers, just bad goaltending and a severe lack of talent. This season, with competent goaltending and actual talent, the Leafs managed to make the playoffs with a decent roster. The fact the Babcock has yet to win a Jack Adams Award is absurd considering he’s one of, if not the best, coaches in the NHL. Since this award is given to teams with quick turnarounds and surpassing expectations, this seems like the year Babcock could win it, and he should win it this time.