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Jack Adams Award winner debated by NHL.com

Berube of Blues, Cooper of Lightning, Trotz of Islanders finalists for coach of the year

NHL.com @NHLdotcom

The Jack Adams Award is a three-coach race between Craig Berube of the St. Louis Blues, Jon Cooper of the Tampa Bay Lightning and Barry Trotz of the New York Islanders. Who will be honored as coach of the year when it is handed out during the 2019 NHL Awards presented by Bridgestone in Las Vegas on June 19? That remains to be seen, but we had five members of the NHL.com staff debate the merits of the finalists to see how the voting by the NHL Broadcasters Association could shake out

 

Jon Lane, staff writer

Jon Cooper, Tampa Bay Lightning

There is no denying the accomplishments of Craig Berube and Barry Trotz, each of whom did excellent work to elevate the St. Louis Blues and New York Islanders to heights unforeseen. There is also no denying the Jack Adams Award from Jon Cooper, whose 62 wins with the Tampa Bay Lightning tied the 1995-96 Detroit Red Wings for the NHL single-season record and whose 128 points were fourth in NHL history. Those supporting Berube and Trotz have argued that the Lightning were expected to win and be top contenders for the Stanley Cup. A coach should not be penalized for having a great team. Cooper is one of two to win 60-plus games in the NHL (Scotty Bowman did it twice) and did so despite missing goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy, Vezina Trophy finalist, for one month. Berube and Trotz had exceptional seasons. What Cooper did with the Lightning was historic.

 

Mike Zeisberger, staff writer

Barry Trotz, New York Islanders

Jon makes great points about Cooper, so much so that it's a coin flip for me between him and Trotz. Leading your team to a historic season should automatically make you a leading candidate. If Cooper wins, it's so well-deserved. At the same time, look at Trotz's impact in his first season with an Islanders franchise that many so-called experts figured would be scraping the basement of the NHL (guilty here as charged). Under his guidance, the Islanders finished with 103 points, 23 more than the previous season, and eliminated the Pittsburgh Penguins in the Eastern Conference First Round. The improvement in defense was equally remarkable. Trotz's smothering blueprint resulted in an NHL-best 191 goals allowed. The Islanders' goals against went from worst to first in a single season, the first team to do that since the 1918-19 Ottawa Senators. It makes for a compelling case for Trotz, doesn't it?

 

Tracey Myers, staff writer

Craig Berube, St. Louis Blues

Jon and Mike make excellent arguments for Cooper and Trotz. With that said, I'd lean toward Blues interim (yep, it's still in his title) coach Berube. It's not just what he did with the Blues, taking them from last in the Western Conference on Jan. 5 to third in the Central Division on April 6 by going 32-9-5 in that span. It's also how he thrived in the tough situation he was placed. Of the seven coaches who replaced those fired during the season, Berube was the only one to reach the Stanley Cup Playoffs. That's some impressive work for a coach who didn't have the benefit of training camp to implement his system.

Video: How Berube took Blues from last place to Stanley Cup

 

William Douglas, staff writer

Craig Berube, St. Louis Blues

No doubt Cooper and Trotz are deserving, but the Jack Adams Award belongs to Berube. What he did with the "interim" title was extraordinary, taking over during the season, getting players to play desperate playoff hockey almost every night, finishing third in the Central Division (48-28-9) and winning the Stanley Cup. (Editor's note: Voting is based on regular season only.)

No disrespect to Cooper or Trotz, but they had their team since training camp. Cooper's Lightning had lots of offensive firepower (Steven Stamkos and Nikita Kucherov) and an established goaltender (Andrei Vasilevskiy) to help them to that record-tying 62-win season. Trotz used the Stanley Cup ring he earned coaching the Washington Capitals to get the Islanders to embrace a defensive style that powered them to the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Berube, who was fired by the Philadelphia Flyers in April 2015 and was given the Blues coaching job with an "interim" tag in November 2018, had to whip a talented but fractured team into shape in a hurry, and he succeeded. Sounds like Jack Adams to me.

 

Dave Stubbs, columnist

Jon Cooper, Tampa Bay Lightning

The word "historic" has appeared in the thoughts of a few colleagues above me, and I'd use that word as my compass point for choosing Jon Cooper as the 2019 Adams winner. Trotz's work to turn around the Islanders was brilliant, and Berube stepping in to take the Blues to their first Stanley Cup championship is a Hollywood script. (Answer me this: Will Berube's name be prefaced with "interim" before "coach" when it's engraved on the Stanley Cup? Not going to happen.) But Cooper took a Lightning team that was expected to be dominant and he kept their eye unfailingly on the target, never letting the foot off the gas no matter the speed bumps of injury. When a coach's name is repeatedly used in the same breath as that of Scotty Bowman, you're doing a great many things right. Cooper should be rewarded with his first Adams victory.

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