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Does Barry Trotz deserve a 2nd straight Jack Adams nomination?…

Over his 13 years in the National Hockey League, right or wrong, Nashville Predators Head Coach Barry Trotz has garnered the reputation of “getting more out of less.”

Last season, Trotz earned his first Jack Adams Award nomination, finishing second to Phoenix’s Dave Tippett. In 2006-07, he was named the Coach of the Year by The Sporting News but wasn’t even a finalist in the official Jack Adams voting.

With all of the incredible coaching jobs done around the league this season, is this finally Trotz’s year to win the highest honors among bench bosses?

The front runners for this year’s award seem to be the names you’d expect to hear. Bruce Boudreau of the Washington Capitals changed their offense-first mentality to a more balanced style. He did this in the midst of a long losing streak in the middle of the season, yet here they are trying to catch the Philadelphia Flyers for the top spot in the Eastern Conference.

What about Pittsburgh’s Dan Bylsma? In short, when you’re highest scoring healthy forward is Chris Kunitz, you’ve got injury issues. Bylsma lost the face of the league in Sidney Crosby and another one of the NHL’s best in Evgeni Malkin but should still finish high enough in the standings to have home ice advantage in the first round of the playoffs. 

Or how about New Jersey’s Jacques Lemaire? While typically your team must qualify for the post season to be recognized as a finalist, Lemaire may be the exception to the rule. All he’s done since taking over the league’s worst team in December is post a 27-11-3 record. They will miss the playoffs but, certainly, an argument could be made that, were Lemaire to have taken over a week before he did, New Jersey gets in the dance. After all, it’s not his fault General Manager Lou Lamoriello waited too long to replace John MacLean. Lemaire did his job once he got behind the bench.

And then there’s Trotz.

The Predators — uncharacteristically — made a splash on July 2 by signing a big name free agent in Matthew Lombardi. Lombardi was supposed to supply some offense and, at the very least, provide speed and discipline in all situations. Instead, he played a whole four periods in a Nashville sweater before suffering a concussion that kept him out all season long.

Then there was the injury to Cal O’Reilly. Sure, that name may not mean much around the league but, if you recall, he was the second leading scorer for Nashville when he broke his fibula and, as a result, was forced to sit out the majority of the season.

Then there was veteran Steve Sullivan. Then Francis Bouillon. Then Marcel Goc. And don’t forget the two different injuries to Pekka Rinne that kept him out of action for a combined four weeks.

So, if you’re keeping track, that’s the projected leading scorer (Lombardi), the leading scorer (O’Reilly), the career point-per-game-in-a-Preds-jersey guy (Sullivan), the only purely stay-at-home, physical presence on defense (Bouillon) and the jack-of-all-trades (Goc). All hurt long term.

Which begs the question, could any other coach in the league survive those kinds of loses and still put his team in position to challenge for the Central Division crown? Because, until this past Saturday, that’s exactly what Trotz did. With four games left in the season, Trotz not only had his Predators getting into the playoffs despite 332 man games lost to injury, but actually within reach of hanging a Central Division Champions banner in the Bridgestone Arena rafters for the first time.

Coming into the year, there were some who actually thought Nashville would finish high enough in the standings to have home-ice advantage in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. But they thought that with a healthy roster. Trotz, the only coach this franchise has even known, has them doing it anyway.

And that’s why, more than any other year, Barry Trotz deserves the Jack Adams Award as the NHL’s best head coach.

PHOTO CREDIT: Paul Nicholson // special to (used with permission)