Two years to the day after he was unveiled as head coach of the Ottawa Senators, Paul MacLean has been named the 2013 Jack Adams Award winner as the NHL’s coach of the year.
It was his second nomination in as many years and his first victory.
It was a trying year for the Senators on the ice with injury after injury to star players compressed into a dense 48 game schedule, allowing no room for error. As rookies and role players stepped into elevated roles the Sens found ways to win — grinding out one goal games, overtimes and shootout nail-biters en route to the playoffs where they upset the Montreal Canadiens in Round 1.
When MacLean was unveiled two years ago he stressed the importance of communication as a tool to empower players which, in turn, creates progress towards the ultimate goals of the organization. Two years later, the power of that message is evident.
Roughly a dozen rookies played for the Sens over the course of the 2013 season and, as a byproduct of necessity, each was given a chance to succeed on their own terms. Mistakes were used as teaching opportunities. The team, its AHL affiliate and the organization as a whole grew as a result.
Since his arrival the Sens have undergone a reinvention of sorts. Many would argue they’ve adopted a similar feel to MacLean’s previous employer, the Detroit Red Wings, without the same caché that the Wings have developed over the years. They have found a balance between blue collar diligence and white collar bravado; between the commitment to improving and the confidence to get the job done.
Any team that loses 382 man games to injury and displays the resolve of the 2013 Sens can, with very little exception, credit strong leadership as a large contributor to its success. Having been to two Stanley Cup finals behind a bench, you can be sure that it’s difficult to understate how valuable it is to have a coach who has the “been there, done that” composure to level the expectation to improve daily until you eventually hit that championship level.
While there’s no doubt hardware will raise the bar for MacLean and his coaching staff and, as the adage goes, past performance doesn’t guarantee future results, the organization and their fans can still take solace in what they’ve seen through two years. It was hard to imagine the coaching staff surpassing the expectations of 2011-12 one year ago today and, somehow, they found a way.
As far as what they can accomplish in 2013-14, clearly there are no easy answers. Coach MacLean’s take after the playoff run created plenty of room for optimism.
“I'm sweating already. It's going to be very hard and success for me breeds fear. I'm scared, I'm really scared but that for me is a comfort because I've dealt with things that way for a long time and it motivates me to make sure that I'm prepared.”
2012-2013 Jack Adams Award Voting
1. Paul MacLean, OTT 206 (28-19-9)
2. Joel Quenneville, CHI 160 (22-13-11)
3. Bruce Boudreau, ANA 88 (6-15-13)
4. Michel Therrien, MTL 78 (10-6-10)
5. Jack Capuano, NYI 47 (5-5-7)
6. Dan Bylsma, PIT 40 (4-4-8)
7. Randy Carlyle, TOR 40 (3-5-10)
8. Adam Oates, WSH 40 (2-8-6)
9. Todd Richards, CBJ 37 (3-5-7)
10. Mike Babcock, DET 7 (0-2-1)
11. Todd McLellan, S.J. 3 (0-1-0)
12. Darryl Sutter, L.A. 1 (0-0-1)
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