Is Detroit Red Wings coach Mike Babcock the NHL's coach the year?
Babcock is one of three coaches named finalists for the Jack Adams Award, which is presented annually to the head coach who "contributed the most to his team's success."
Patrick Roy of the Colorado Avalanche and Jon Cooper of the Tampa Bay Lightning are the others.
The finalists are no surprise, but it is interesting that not one of the three teams made it out of the first round of the playoffs. The Red Wings bowed out in five games against the top-seeded Bruins while the Lightning were swept out by the Montreal Canadiens and the Avalanche were knocked out by the Minnesota Wild in seven games.
None of that matters, though. The NHL Broadcasters' Association submitted ballots for the Jack Adams Award at the conclusion of the regular season. The winner will be announced June 24 during the 2014 NHL Awards ceremony.
Babcock during 2014 locker cleanout at Joe Louis Arena:
Mike Babcock's team suffered an outstanding amount of injuries -- 421 man games lost due to injury -- and was without stars Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg for much of the season. Young players were coming in and out of the lineup almost daily. In fact, Detroit used 38 players during the season, nine of which made their NHL debuts. The Red Wings haven't seen that since 1990-91.
This is his second time up for the award. He placed third in 2007-08.
The Red Wings finished the season with a 39-28-15 record and 93 points, enough to secure a 23rd consecutive postseason appearance.
John Cooper's Lightning (46-27-9, 101 points) experienced a big climb into the 2nd spot in the Atlantic Division after finishing 28th overall in 2012-13. General Manager Steve Yzerman put his trust in Cooper after he led Tampa's AHL affiliate to a Calder Cup championship in 2012.
Things got bumpy for Tampa this season. Steven Stamkos broke his leg and captain Martin St. Louis got traded after an apparent feud with Yzerman. But Cooper kept them winning as eight rookies appeared in at least 40 games with the Lightning. They posted an impressive 21 road wins.
One of Cooper's most memorable moments actually was during the playoffs when he tried to rescue Stamkos from reporters. It was some insight into his relationship with the team.
Patrick Roy returned to Colorado as a rookie NHL coach and turned the team around immediately. I mean, immediately. With an amazing 6-1 win in his first game behind the bench, followed by a display of his classic temper. Just watch:
The Avalanche (52-22-8, 112 points) finished 29th overall the season before. Roy helped them get out of the basement and back to winning ways, finishing 3rd overall.
They matched a franchise record for wins, ranked 4th in the league in goals and never lost in regulation when leading after two periods. Not surprisingly, they had some standout goaltending, too.
About the Jack Adams Award:
The award was presented by the NHL Broadcasters' Association in 1974 in honor of the late Jack Adams, longtime coach and general manager of the Detroit Red Wings.
Paul MacLean won it in 2012-13 as head coach of the Ottawa Senators.
Only four coaches have won the award twice. Pat Burns won it three times, the most of any coach.