Why not Alain Vigneault for coach of the year
Alain Vigneault is likely being overlooked for the Jack Adams Award, which goes to the NHL coach of the year. Gary Lawless of the Winnipeg Free Press recently wrote that AV was deserving of the award. However, he also eluded to the fact that it appears to go to the coach who has the biggest bounce back season.
This flies in the face of the main criteria used to base a vote, which is having the most impact to the team’s success. According to what Lawless believes, success is exactly why AV likely won’t win the award. Instead, look to Bob Hartley in Calgary who has the Flames surprising everyone. Another possibility is Peter Laviolette in Nashville or even Jack Capuano on Long Island.
All three are very deserving of applause and recognition for their fine work, but do they really fit the criteria of the award? Last year’s winner Patrick Roy surprised everyone in his first year behind an NHL bench, but where are his Avalanche now? Makes you wonder if the voters don’t go with the flashier pick over the steadier one. If they did, Mike Babcock would be a perennial favorite.
Here’s even more going against AV this year as pointed out by Lawless. The Award has gone to a coach in his first year with a new team, 5 out of the last 8 years. Even worse, it’s happened 17 times in the award’s 40 year history. That’s almost 50%! It just isn’t right.
Now, if the award is supposed to be based on this year alone and voters can’t factor in last season, I would argue that AV would still be a lock to win it. But as it’s been pointed out, it indirectly seems to be taken into consideration. Why else would Patrick Roy get it? The Avalanche were bad the year before, he had no prior NHL coaching experience, comes in and becomes a 1 hit wonder.
If they really didn’t consider these factors, Roy wouldn’t have gotten a sniff as there were coaches who finished higher in the standings more consistently that deserved it. Same goes for the other names being considered like Bob Hartley. Yes, the Flames missed the playoffs last year and he has taken a young group and gotten them in the mix. Is that really great coaching? Just getting in? I assure you it shouldn’t be.
Look at AV now, he took his team to the Stanley Cup Final last season and lost 5 key players to either cap casualty buyout, trades and free agency. In their place now are some young talents by the names of Kevin Hayes, J.T. Miller and Jesper Fast. Impressive no? Should be because all three are thriving in roles on a 1st place team.
Peter Laviolette is a great coach, he’s proven it everywhere he’s gone. I challenge that the Predators success is based more on the health of Pekka Rinne than anything else. I think of the names mentioned, maybe Jack Capuano should be AV’s real challenger. Although the Islanders have started to slip, he still has them exceeding expectations. While that’s great, do it again next year and claim the award.
Bottom line is this, Alain Vigneault is as consistent as they come. He is all cool with no panic. In the face of another slow start, AV has guided this team from a 7-7-4 record to winning 39 of their last 55 games and picking up 81 points in the process.
The Rangers have no Stanley Cup Final hangover like the L.A. Kings who are struggling to make the post season. No, the Rangers have come back this year on a mission and have a legit chance to capture the President’s Trophy as the best team in the league.
So if we really want to be fair and hold true to the essence of the Jack Adams Award, the choice is clear. Alain Vigneault is not only worth, he may be absolutely the best coach in the game today.