On Wednesday, Head Coach Todd McLellan departs for Las Vegas for the National Hockey League’s Awards Ceremony. On Thursday night, he’ll find out if he won the Jack Adams Trophy as the NHL’s Coach of the Year.
The two other finalists for the honor include Boston’s Claude Julien and Andy Murray of the St. Louis Blues. Members of the NHL Broadcasters' Association submitted ballots for the Jack Adams Award at the conclusion of the regular season, with the top three vote-getters designated as finalists. The winner will be announced during the 2009 NHL Awards Ceremony that will be broadcast live from the Pearl Concert Theater inside the Palms Hotel Las Vegas on VERSUS in the United States and on CBC in Canada.
“The award itself is an honor,” McLellan said. “It’s a team honor, not an individual honor. The rest of the coaching staff, (Director of Scouting) Tim Burke and the scouts all have input in the direction of the team and how it plays. I feel like I’m going there representing the Sharks and not Todd McLellan.”
Even with the accolades coming his way, McLellan still feels the award should come for playoff results.
“The coach of the year should be guy that hoists Lord Stanley,” McLellan said. “They (Pittsburgh and Detroit) took their teams the furthest and got their teams to respond and competed to the bitter end.”
Almost two months after the Sharks season ended in the Western Conference Quarterfinals, McLellan can still clearly see the highs and lows.
“When we look back at our team, we did a lot of good things,” he said. “A lot of things we’re proud of. But again, the end of the season was a bitter pill to swallow. That is what we’re living with. When comments are made, it’s seldom, ‘Hey you had a great regular season.’ It’s, ‘Hey, what happened in the playoffs?”
McLellan did watch most of the postseason action through Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals.
“We watched as many games as possible, obviously with a lot of interest,” McLellan said. “I thought there was some very good hockey played. I thought the teams that played the best were in the Finals. I think it goes to show you have to play extremely well when it counts. Pittsburgh struggled until early February and then they got it going and it paid off for them. If you’re not playing when it really counts, it doesn’t matter.”
McLellan was definitely glued to the television, but not just because his former Detroit team was going for a second straight Stanley Cup Championship.
“The emotion comes from the fact the Sharks weren’t playing,” McLellan said. “It had nothing to do with Detroit or Pittsburgh. Did it bring back memories? Absolutely, yes. You watch what guys do with the Stanley Cup after it’s awarded. (Development Coach) Mike Ricci, Rob Blake, Brad Lukowich, they’re all thinking that way, too. The emotional part is we didn’t have chance to compete for it.”