To mark the first quarter of the season, NHL.com is running its second installment of the Trophy Tracker series this week. Today, we look at the race for the Jack Adams Award, given annually to the top coach in the NHL as selected in a Professional Hockey Writers Association poll.
Barry Trotz and Dave Tippett each is doing yeoman's work this season, with the New York Islanders and Edmonton Oilers, while living up to the standards of excellence he has set throughout his NHL career.
Trotz has won 826 games, second to Joel Quenneville of the Florida Panthers (901) among active NHL coaches, and Tippett is ninth with 567. They are maximizing the Islanders and Oilers to their fullest potential, which impressed a panel of 20 NHL.com writers to where each received 75 points in a poll to determine the favorite for the Jack Adams Award after the first quarter of the season.
Trotz received 10 first-place votes, most from the panel. Tippett received eight and was named on 17 of 20 ballots, more than any other coach. Rick Tocchet of the Arizona Coyotes received two first-place votes and was third in the overall total with 44 points.
Tippett returned to coaching when he was hired by the Oilers on May 28 after he was a senior adviser for the Seattle NHL expansion franchise. He has Edmonton (14-7-3) first in the Pacific Division and on track to make the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the second time in 14 seasons. It helps having Leon Draisaitl and Connor McDavid tied for first in the NHL scoring race with 44 points, but the Oilers are No. 1 on the power play (31.4 percent), second on the penalty kill (88.0 percent) and seventh in goals-against per game (2.79) after allowing 3.30 per game last season.
The turnaround in Edmonton is surprising to some, but Tippett's track record suggested it was inevitable. He was 46-17-4 with 15 ties for the Dallas Stars in 2002-03, his first season as an NHL coach, and guided them to the Western Conference Final in 2008. He went 282-257-83 in eight seasons with the Phoenix/Arizona Coyotes, winning the Jack Adams Award in 2010 and advancing to the conference final in 2012. Five coaches (Jacques Lemaire, Pat Quinn, Scotty Bowman, John Tortorella and Trotz) have won the award with two teams.
"We want to continue to get better," Tippett said Monday. "We've added some good stuff as a team, just how we play as a team. Obviously, top two guys have been really good, but if you look at the rest of our game, our goals-against is pretty good, our PK's been good, our goaltending's been good. There's a lot of little factors that are probably less heralded but have actually gone all right for us. We have to continue to build on some of those little things and continue to build on our team game because that's what I think is going to sustain us long term."
The Islanders are enjoying a second straight strong season under Trotz, who could be the second coach to win the award in consecutive seasons (Jacques Demers, Detroit Red Wings in 1987 and 1988). Projected by many to take a step back after reaching the Eastern Conference Second Round last season, New York (16-3-1) is 15-0-1 in its past 16 games following a 4-3 overtime win against the Pittsburgh Penguins at Barclays Center on Thursday, setting its record for longest point streak.
"I think everybody at the end of the day enjoys success," Trotz told "NHL Now" on Nov. 14. "It's very hard in this league to have individual success and have team success at the same time. I think when you give up a bit of yourself for the team, you end up having pretty good team success. You may give up a few goals or assists, but it makes the year a lot better when you're winning. I think the guys recognize how important it is that there's not a lot of 'I' in the team to have success. It's very difficult if you have that."
Voting totals (points awarded on a 5-4-3-2-1- basis): Barry Trotz, Islanders, 75 points (10 first-place votes); Dave Tippett, Oilers, 75 points (eight); Rick Tocchet, Coyotes, 44 (two); Todd Reirden, Washington Capitals, 21; Bruce Cassidy, Boston Bruins, 18; Alain Vigneault, Philadelphia Flyers, 13; Jared Bednar, Colorado Avalanche, 11; Travis Green, Vancouver Canucks, 11; Joel Quenneville, Panthers, 9; Craig Berube, St. Louis Blues, 9; Claude Julien, Montreal Canadiens, 5; Paul Maurice, Winnipeg Jets, 3; Mike Sullivan, Pittsburgh Penguins, 3; Ralph Krueger, Buffalo Sabres, 1