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Adams? Rosen says Murray; E.J. votes McLellan

by Dan Rosen and E.J. Hradek

Jacques Demers remains the only coach in history to win the Jack Adams Award in back-to-back seasons (1987-88). So, sorry Dan Bylsma, but the odds of you bringing home this trophy again are, well, miniscule.

History also suggests that having the best team in the regular season doesn't give you a better chance to win the award.

Only three times in the past 25 seasons has the coach whose team won the Presidents' Trophy taken home the Jack Adams Award. It hasn't happened since Joel Quenneville was named coach of the year after leading the Blues to 113 points in the 1999-2000 season.

So what does it take to win the Jack Adams Award? Well, nine active coaches can talk about it from experience -- Quenneville, Jacques Martin, John Tortorella, Lindy Ruff, Alain Vigneault, Bruce Boudreau, Claude Julien, Dave Tippett and Bylsma all have won the award.

They're all candidates again this season. Will any of them win it?

Terry Murray, Los Angeles Kings

Expectations are high for the Kings and for Murray. He's entering his fourth season in this job and twice in a row has led to the Kings to the postseason.

However, he hasn't yet been able to guide the Kings over the first-round hurdle, but provided Drew Doughty eventually jumps on board with a new contract, he'll have his most talented roster yet. That doesn't mean the Kings will win a round in the playoffs, but it should be good enough for them to secure a top-four seed in the Western Conference and nail down Murray's first Jack Adams Award.

Now, it should be noted that Murray's challenges won't be easy to overcome.

What if Doughty's contract situation drags into the regular season? Murray has to find a way to cope without the team's best blueliner while answering questions about his absence at the same time.

How does he handle his goaltenders? The Kings' goaltending situation, with Jonathan Quick and Jonathan Bernier, is an envious one, but Murray can't let it backfire by riding one netminder too hard, especially early in the season.

Where does Mike Richards fit? He's a fine addition to the club, but Murray has to make sure he's playing with the right wingers. It's not as easy as saying, "Hey, Simon Gagne and Dustin Brown, you're on the wings and Mike is your center, now go produce for 82 games." Richards has a history with Gagne, so it's natural to think they'll be good together again. Brown seemingly can play with anyone, so you figure the line will work.

And, of course, what about the Kings' season-opening, 18-day road trip that will take them from L.A. to Las Vegas to Hamburg to Stockholm to Berlin to New Jersey and finally to Philadelphia before they make their way back to the Pacific Coast?

Murray has to make sure his team is in the proper shape, physically and mentally, to get through that grind.

It takes a veteran coach to handle all of that, and Murray, who will be coaching his 15th season in the NHL, is the right guy at the right time for the Kings.

Todd McLellan, San Jose Sharks

San Jose Sharks coach Todd McLellan. (Getty Images)
Every season, there seem to be a dozen or more coaches that can make a legitimate case to win the Jack Adams Award. Last season, Bylsma got the nod after leading his injury-riddled team to a 100-point season and a playoff berth.

However, I'd say coaches like Tampa Bay's Guy Boucher, Vancouver's Alain Vigneault and Anaheim's Randy Carlyle were among a large group who deserved serious consideration. Heck, New Jersey's Jacques Lemaire went back behind the bench in December and nearly stole the award by leading the downtrodden Devils on an epic second-half run that nearly landed them a playoff spot.

Often, the coach of a team that bucked low expectations to have a good season will have the inside track on the honor. In recent seasons, Washington's Bruce Boudreau (2008) and Phoenix's Dave Tippett (2010) won under those circumstances.

I'm going to go away from that thinking, however, in selecting McLellan. The Sharks again enter this season with high expectations. In fact, they enter the season with perhaps their most complete group in team history. McLellan is expected to deliver again and I believe he will.

Since arriving in San Jose in 2008, McLellan has pushed his team forward, including consecutive trips to the Western Conference Finals. This could be the year he leads the Sharks to the next step. I see a big season for the Sharks, and their coach will get his share of credit for their success.

Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl. Follow E.J. Hradek on Twitter at: @EJHradek_NHL
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