John Tortorella of the Philadelphia Flyers may win the Jack Adams Trophy (best coach in the NHL) if the team loses at the midpoint of the season.
A squad that was predicted to finish in the Metropolitan Division bottom was elevated to a legitimate postseason contender under Tortorella’s leadership. It appears that the Flyers’ current strategy is sustainable, therefore a collapse in the second half seems improbable.
Tortorella is still the favorite, even if they miss the playoffs. When the finalists are revealed, there will be two more nominations, and one of them ought to be Edmonton Oilers player Kris Knoblauch. Knoblauch has guided the Oilers through an incredible comeback.
When the Stanley Cup favorites started the season with a record that put them dead last in the Pacific Division, panic broke out throughout Oil Country.
The NHL coach of the year award could go to many different people
After firing Jay Woodcroft as head coach, Edmonton hired Knoblauch, who had been coaching the Hartford, Connecticut, AHL affiliate of the New York Rangers.
In ESPN’s most recent NHL power rankings, Knoblauch was deemed the Oilers’ “best addition.” Kristen Shilton summarised Knoblauch’s condensed résumé this season as follows:
“The Oilers’ record speaks for itself: after Jay Woodcraft was fired, they were 3-9-1; after Kris Knoblauch, they are 21-6-0. Since Nov. 12, it is the league’s third-best record overall, and there’s no denying that Knoblauch was instrumental in helping Edmonton right the ship before it fully sank.”
Knoblauch might very well be the front-runner for the Jack Adams Trophy if Tortorella was struggling and had not produced a strong body of work in the city of brotherly love over the entire season.
As midseason replacements, three coaches have taken home the honor. In the 2000–2001 season, Bruce Boudreau of the Washington Capitals, Ken Hitchcock of the St. Louis Blues, and Bill Barber of the Flyers all claimed victories.
For the record, Hitchcock was hired at the 13-game mark in the season, and Boudreau at the 21-game mark. Additionally, Knoblauch was hired at the 13-game mark.
Knoblauch’s argument is strengthened by the drastic nature of Edmonton’s recovery. The intrigue is heightened by the Oilers’ status as preseason cup favorites and their transformation from division bottom dwellers to historic win streaks.
Edmonton’s comeback is comparable to St. Louis’s during the historic 2018–19 Stanley Cup championship season—”worst to first.”
Craig Berube was St. Louis’s interim head coach, much like he was for the Oilers. They also had rookie goaltender Jordan Binnington, who made a number of saves in the net, unlike the Oilers.
Despite their lackluster starts, Edmonton has managed to extract maximum value from their elite players thanks to Knoblauch’s skill as a goalie fixer.
McDavid was coached by Knoblauch when he played junior hockey. McDavid scored two goals and ten points in 11 games under Woodcroft before tallying 10 goals and 24 assists for 34 points in the first 18 games under Knoblauch.
Yes, McDavid had an injury, missed some time, and persevered through it, but it doesn’t alter the fact that under Knoblauch, he found a new offensive gear.
McDavid averaged 1.89 points per game over the course of the 18 games in the sample. McDavid had 1.87 points per game the season he won the Hart Trophy.
Even though some predicted that he would score 200 points this season, the Oilers will gladly accept a McDavid who is on level with last year’s.
There are more rivals for Knoblauch besides Tortorella.Rick Tocchet of the Vancover Canucks is regarded by NHL.com writers as the favorite. Similar to Tortorella, Tocchet was employed the previous season and could immediately put his system into place, so “longevity” is once more working against Knoblauch.
For Knoblauch, this year still represents a personal victory. He was drafted out of the AHL and led one of the most talented teams in the NHL through a spectacular turnaround in a few of months. Even if a nomination doesn’t guarantee a win, it is nonetheless recognition of all that Knoblauch has achieved.