Now is the time, this is the year. Barry Trotz should win the Jack Adams trophy.
This is coming from someone who wrote a very critical article three weeks ago that questioned whether David Poile and Barry Trotz are doing as good a job as typically espoused by the media. Of course, that’s not enough to convince you- but I will.
There are certainly many deserving candidates this year- like there are typically every year. It’s only fair to examine each of those coaches too.
Dan Bylsma of the Pittsburgh Penguins is a very worthy and popular candidate. Bylsma has been able to guide a Penguins team that is currently missing Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin to 106pts and the 4th seed. That’s incredibly impressive. In any other year, Bylsma would be my choice for the Adams trophy.
Alain Vigneault of the Vancouver Canucks is another popular choice. Vancouver has had to absorb a similar number of injuries as Pittsburgh. Like Pittsburgh, the vast majority of those injuries were focused to one position (defensemen) and were somewhat staggered. Vigneault did an impressive job utilizing a very potent offense and Roberto Luongo to a fantastic year. Their impressive depth on the blueline also helped to mitigate the injuries. As impressive as Vancouver has been- they were expected to be.
Dave Tippet in Phoenix has done another remarkable job in Phoenix. He’s guided that team back into the playoffs in the tough Western Conference as the 6th seed.
As remarkable a job as the coaches above have done, Barry Trotz has turned in one of the best coaching jobs of his career this year.
Through the first 73-ish games of the year, the Predators have lost the most man-games to injury of any other playoff team.
The Predators are a team that consists of three elite players (Weber, Suter, Rinne) surrounded by a lot of solid to good players. They play a responsible, defense-first game that suits that core of elite players. Their centers are all very good two-way players who are better defensively than they are offensively. Offense has always been created from hard forechecking, scoring by committee, and capitalizing on the other team’s mistakes.
That sounds like a workable plan when Weber, Suter and Rinne are leading the charge.
Does it sound like a workable plan when Ryan Suter and Pekka Rinne both miss double digit games due to injury? What if I tell you that for the forward position with the most defensive responsibility- center, you’ll only have one player exceed 51 games played (at 64 games)? You will lose your number one center in the second game of the season for the year. You will lose a top-four defensemen and be forced to play a rookie that’s played 23 games at the NHL level in your top four going into the playoffs. Your elite goaltender will miss two long stretches of games and you’ll play a rookie goalie in his stead. And just so it’s not all focused on the defensive side of things, just about every top six forward will see some significant missed time due to injury.
That’s what Barry Trotz has bad to absorb this year. He not only absorbed those injuries, he guided his team to the 5th seed in the extremely tough Western Conference.
Missing guys like Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin is huge, but at least Bylsma had that kind of talent for half a season. Nashville’s top center, Lombardi, has missed 80 games. Legwand has missed 18, Goc has missed 31, and Cal O’Reilly has missed 44. Only David Legwand has returned from that group. None of those guys rise to level of a Crosby or Malkin.
From the net out, Rinne has missed 11 games, Suter has missed 12, and Francis Bouillon has missed 38. I believe Bouillon is unlikely to return this year. Rookies Anders Lindback and Jonathan Blum have had to step up for those players in order for the Predators to remain one of the best defensive teams in the league.
Offense has never been a strong point for the Nashville Predators, including years past. Nashville’s power play is a woeful 26th in the league at 15.2%. Injuries to Martin Erat (18 games), Steve Sullivan (38 games), Kostitsyn playing through a broken toe for the first 20 games of the season, Dumont’s decline in production, and the center injuries above certainly haven’t helped that. You will not find anyone that has been as critical of Barry Trotz and his staff regarding their inability over the years to ice an above average power play, but there’s something to be said of the success the team has achieved despite those difficulties.
It would be nice if Nashville had at one elite forward on the roster. As good a job as Vigneault has done, he’s also had the benefit of four forwards that would leading Nashville in scoring- the Sedins, Kesler, and Sameulsson. Daniel Sedin has more than twice as many points as any Predator player and Henrik Sedin almost has twice as many as well. He’s also had his top netminder, Luongo, all season.
Despite all the injuries and perceived lack of talent, Barry Trotz guided his team to 99 points and the 5th seed in the conference. Barry Trotz has not yet led this team to postseason success. The Jack Adams award, however, is not based upon postseason success. It’s given to the coach that’s done the best coaching job in the regular season.
No coach has had to endure as much, change their strategy as much, or be forced to lean on pure rookies as much as Barry Trotz. Barry Trotz not only endured, he achieved. His team achieved a 5th seed and looks ready to give their playoff opponent(s) all they want.
He simply did the best job of any coach this year.
About the Author: Nashville Predators Blogger, Software Engineer (C#.NET), Novice Woodworker, Southern Cook, Husband, Father of Two. You may contact me at David.R.Singleton AT gmail.com.