Craig Berube of the St. Louis Blues, Jon Cooper of the Tampa Bay Lightning and Barry Trotz of the New York Islanders were named Friday as finalists for the Jack Adams Award, given annually to the coach voted as the best in the NHL.
The winner will be announced at the 2019 NHL Awards presented by Bridgestone at the Mandalay Bay Events Center sports and entertainment complex in Las Vegas on June 19.
Berube began the season as an associate coach but was promoted by the Blues on Nov. 19 after coach Mike Yeo was fired following a 7-9-3 start. St. Louis took a while to come together under Berube; the Blues were last in the NHL standings Jan. 2 at 15-18-4, but finished 30-10-5, including an 11-game winning streak from Jan. 23 to Feb. 19, to qualify for the Stanley Cup Playoffs as the third-place finisher in the Central Division. Much of the improvement stemmed from Berube's decision to give 25-year-old rookie Jordan Binnington the No. 1 goaltending job. Binnington had a shutout Jan. 7 in his first NHL start and was 24-5-1 with a 1.89 goals-against average and .927 save percentage in his final 30 games. In all, the Blues were 38-19-6 under Berube, who was 75-58-28 as coach of the Philadelphia Flyers in 2013-14 and 2014-15 after playing 1,054 NHL games from 1987-2003.
Video: Berube, Cooper, Trotz named Jack Adams finalists
Cooper coached the Lightning (62-16-4, 128 points) to their first Presidents' Trophy as the League's top regular-season team. Tampa Bay's 62 wins tied the 1995-96 Detroit Red Wings for the NHL single-season record, and the Lightning's 128 points were fourth-most in League history. Tampa Bay finished 21 points ahead of the Calgary Flames and Boston Bruins (107 points each), marking the largest gap between first and second place in the regular season since Detroit finished 27 points ahead of the Colorado Avalanche in 1995-96. The Lightning were the first NHL team to have at least 30 home wins (32-7-2) and 30 road wins (30-9-2) in the same season, and their 30 road victories were second-most in League history, after the 2005-06 Red Wings (31). Tampa Bay also led the NHL in power-play percentage (28.2 percent) and penalty-kill percentage (85.0 percent) to become one of two teams (Anaheim Ducks in 2015-16) since the NHL introduced the statistic in 1977 to finish first in both categories.
Trotz coached the Islanders to one of the best single-season turnarounds in the NHL after leading the Washington Capitals to their first Stanley Cup championship in 2017-18. New York (48-27-7) finished fifth in the League with 103 points, a 23-point increase from 2017-18 and its highest total since finishing with 104 points in 1983-84. The Islanders qualified for the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the first time since 2016 largely on the strength of their defense and goaltending, with Robin Lehner and Thomas Greiss combining for an Islanders-record 11 shutouts. New York gave up an NHL-low 191 goals after allowing a League-high 293 in 2017-18, becoming the sixth team in NHL history to allow at least 100 fewer goals than the previous season and the second (after the 1918-19 Ottawa Senators) to allow the fewest goals immediately following a season when yielding the most. Trotz, who won the Jack Adams Award in 2015-16, his second of four seasons with the Capitals, didn't have the luxury of a 30-goal scorer on the Islanders roster; forward Anders Lee led New York with 28. He also did it after the Islanders lost center John Tavares, who left as a free agent and signed a seven-year contract with the Toronto Maple Leafs on July 1, 2018.