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by Dave Vest / Arizona Coyotes
LAS VEGAS -- Logic suggests it will be challenging for Head Coach Dave Tippett and the Coyotes to achieve even more than what they did in 2009-10 when they set franchise marks for victories (50) and points (107) and earned the team’s first NHL playoffs berth since 2002. But according to Tippett, the bar has been set higher.

Moments after winning the 2010 Jack Adams Award on Wednesday, Tippett was asked if he had a message for the fans back in Phoenix.

“Just that we're going to continue to improve, continue to try to push forward with what we started last year, and we hope to have a lot more fun next year,” Tippett replied.

Dave Tippett and the Jack Adams Award. (Photo by Norm Hall).
The NHL Broadcasters’ Association voted Tippett, who joined the Coyotes just nine days before the regular season started, the league’s top coach for 2009-10. Fifty-nine people took part in the voting. Fifty-seven voted Tippett first on their ballots. The other two voted for Detroit Red Wings Head Coach Mike Babcock, who, unlike Colorado’s Joe Sacco and Nashville’s Barry Trotz, wasn’t one of the three finalists. Go figure.

Under Tippett’s guidance, the Coyotes also posted an NHL-best 28-point gain over their 2008-09 total, set a franchise mark for home wins (29) and set the franchise record for longest home winning streak (10 games).

Tippett stressed puck possession and sound defensive play and the players responded. Phoenix killed 84.5 percent of its opponents’ power plays and only two teams gave up fewer goals per game than the Coyotes (2.39).

All of the aforementioned franchise records and stats are especially impressive considering Tippett and the players had to deal with the team’s ongoing ownership situation and some very negative media attention throughout the season.

Dave Tippett after the 2010 NHL Awards. (Photo by Norm Hall).
“I think all the adversity, with nobody giving us much chance to do anything, made them a very coachable group,” Tippett said. “They were guys that … had a lot to prove, and we came in with some pretty simple things that we were going to ask them to do and how they were going to play. I thought the strengths of our team were our ability to defend and our goaltending, and we game-planned around that.”

After winning the Jack Adams Award, Tippett credited Associate Coach Ulf Samuelsson and the rest of his staff for preparing the players and keeping them focused through training camp until his arrival on Sept. 24. The transition from former Head Coach Wayne Gretzky to Tippett was seamless thanks to the respect the players already had for Tippett and his direct coaching style; by the time the season had started, every player in the dressing room knew his exact role and the ramifications if he didn’t perform it.

Doan, who knew Tippett from playing against him when he was head coach of the Dallas Stars and playing for him on the Canadian team at the IIHF World Championship, was extremely confident Tippett would win the Jack Adams Award.

Dave and Wendy Tippett at the 2010 NHL Awards. (Photo by Norm Hall).
“I might have walked out (of the ceremony) if he didn't,” Doan said. “He was unbelievable for us… I have nothing but incredible remarks about Tipp as a person, as a coach, everything. He was incredible for us.”

Doan, who on Wednesday was awarded the King Clancy Memorial Trophy for his leadership skills, congratulated Tippett in person. Other Coyotes players, and players who used to play under Tippett for other teams, congratulated him via text messages.

Tippett, who flew to Los Angeles on Thursday morning for the NHL Entry Draft, is the fourth head coach in Coyotes/Winnipeg Jets history to win the Jack Adams Award. Tom Watt won in 1982, Bob Murdoch won in 1990, and Bob Francis won in 2002.

“Well, it's very gratifying, I think, for our organization,” Tippett said. “I'm very happy for our coaching staff. You know, we were a team that nobody gave much of a chance at the start of the year, and we used that adversity as a motivating factor throughout our whole group right from Doug Moss and his staff to Don Maloney and the hockey operations staff to our players.

He added, “In the end, we probably did a lot more than people thought, but in Phoenix we think it's just the start of putting the foundation in place that we want to build there.”

EDITOR’S NOTE: Here is the voting for the 2010 Jack Adams Award:

Points (1st-2nd-3rd)

1. Dave Tippett, PHX – 291 (57-2-0)
2. Barry Trotz, NSH – 60 (0-17-9)
3. Joe Sacco, COL – 51 (0-14-9)
4. Mike Babcock – DET 38 (2-7-7)
5. Terry Murray, L.A. – 26 (0-5-11)
6. Cory Clouston, OTT – 21 (0-6-3)
7. Lindy Ruff, BUF – 13 (0-2-7)
8. Joel Quenneville, CHI – 10 (0-2-4)
9. Alain Vigneault, VAN – 7 (0-2-1)
10. Bruce Boudreau, WSH – 7 (0-1-4)
11. Jacques Lemaire, N.J. – 4 (0-1-1)
12. Dan Bylsma, PIT – 1 (0-0-1)
12. Claude Julien, BOS – 1 (0-0-1)
12. Paul Maurice, CAR – 1 (0-0-1)

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