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Preds’ Barry Trotz among NHL Award finalists…

It was announced today that Nashville Predators Head Coach Barry Trotz was named as one of the three finalists for the Jack Adams Trophy.

The Jack Adams Trophy is given out annually to “the NHL coach adjudged to have contributed the most to his team’s success.”

The other nominees are Colorado’s Joe Sacco and Phoenix’s Dave Tippett.

If you’re an outsider looking in, Trotz seems like the quintessential candidate year-in and year-out in Nashville. He’s the only head coach the organization’s ever known, he continues to field competitive regular season teams despite a shoe-string budget and his club is rarely picked to make the post season but always seems to be in the mix once April comes around.

But that’s only if you’re watching this team on paper.

If you’re a Predators fan who watches this team every night, you know this team doesn’t play with the same kind of discipline every game. You know that the big money forwards don’t make good decisions on a regular basis (opting to pass rather than shoot when they have a clear shooting lane, watching the play instead of watching their man, etc.). You know that this roster has plenty of talent despite the absence of a true superstar and that the roster consistently underachieves when it matters most. A great coach – notice the word “great” – doesn’t let those things happen so often that they’re recognized as a problem.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying the Trotz isn’t a good coach, because he is. I’m not saying that he hasn’t deserved a Jack Adams nomination in the past, because he has. And I’m certainly not saying that he didn’t do a marvelous job this season, because he did. (remember October?). All I’m saying is, the nomination seems to be a bit of a make-up nomination. Clearly Mike Babcock of the Detroit Red Wings deserves to be in the mix considering his Detroit Red Wings lost over 300 man games to injury, he handed over the goaltending reigns to a rookie and his team played in the tough Central Division yet still finished in the top five in the West. That’s ridiculously impressive and, even over Sacco, I would’ve given Babcock the nod.

But, no matter who you would put in your top three, the winner is going to be Tippett. The guy came into a volatile situation in Phoenix. He took over a team from previous Head Coach Wayne Gretzky (who wouldn’t even show up during the early stages of training camp, mind you) and single-handedly changed the attitude in the locker room. He made those guys believe they could win in the ultra-competitive Pacific Division. Much like Trotz in Nashville, he didn’t have a single superstar to call his own but did have an elite goaltender and that was all he needed. He got production all season long out of his battalion of blue collar warriors and even turned some of their trade deadline acquisitions into short-term stars with what he got out of them.

Bottom line is Tippett took a bunch of guys who didn’t have anything going for them, who were in the middle of a horrible legal battle (that’s still going on today) with BlackBerry billionaire Jim Balsille, the NHL, Chicago White Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf, Ice Edge Holdings, Montreal businessman Steve Stotland and your cousin Arnold and created a winner.

So even though there may be some argument as to who the other two nominees should be, hardly anyone will argue the winner of the 2010 Jack Adams Award will be Dave Tippett of the Phoenix Coyotes.

The NHL Award show can be seen June 23 live on Versus. In addition, will be there covering the event.

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