NEW YORK - Two coaches who exceeded expectations by taking their teams to the NHL playoffs are among the finalists for the Jack Adams Award.
Joe Sacco of the Colorado Avalanche and Dave Tippett of the Phoenix Coyotes join Barry Trotz of the Nashville Predators as nominees for the award, which goes to the head coach deemed to have contributed the most to his team's success.
Sacco, in his first season as an NHL coach, took over an Avalanche team that finished last in the Western Conference in 2008-09.
The Avs opened the season with a 10-1-2 run and finished with a 43-30-9 record to finish second in the Northwest Division with 95 points.
Colorado is the first Western Conference team to make the playoffs after finishing last the previous year since the current alignment was introduced in 2000-01.
Tippett was hired less than a week before the regular season started and took over a bankrupt team with an uncertain future.
With Tippett behind the bench the Coyotes had a 50-27-5 record for 107 points and reached the playoffs for the first time since 2002. The team set a franchise record for wins and points in a season.
The Coyotes also had a NHL-best 28-point improvement over last year, edging the 26-point increase Colorado showed.
Trotz, the only coach the Predators have known, guided Nashville to the playoffs for the fifth time in the last six seasons with a 47-29-6 record for 100 points.
Nashville played its best hockey down the stretch, posting the NHL's fourth-best record after the Olympic break (14-6-1).
Trotz coached his 900th NHL game, all with Nashville, on April 3 at Detroit. He joined Al Arbour (N.Y. Islanders), Billy Reay (Chicago), Lindy Ruff (Buffalo), Jack Adams (Detroit) and Toe Blake (Montreal) as the only coaches to reach the milestone with one team.
Voting for the award is done by members of the NHL Broadcasters' Association at the end of the regular season.
The winner will be announced June 23 at the NHL awards night in Las Vegas.