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Preds continue march to Vegas; Trotz up for Jack Adams…

Last Wednesday, David Poile was nominated for GM of the Year. Last Friday, Pekka Rinne was named a Vezina Trophy finalist. This past Monday, captain Shea Weber was pegged a Norris Trophy nominee. And today, the hockey world learned that one more Nashville Predator will be making his way to Las Vegas in late June.

Head Coach Barry Trotz has been nominated for the Jack Adams Trophy for the second straight year. The Jack Adams is handed out annually to the coach who is “adjudged to have contributed the most to his team’s success.”

In short, it’s the Coach of the Year award.

Trotz did a masterful job this season. Not only did he lead his team to their sixth postseason appearance in seven years but he had to do it with a decimated lineup to key players. Rinne (11 games), Matthew Lombardi (80), Cal O’Reilly (44), Martin Erat (18), David Legwand (18), Steve Sullivan (38), Francis Bouillon (38), Marcel Goc (31) and Ryan Suter (12) all missed extended periods of time with injuries and all fit specific roles on this hockey club.

Rinne went down on opening night and then again in December, Lombardi was the key summer acquisition but ended up only playing four periods for his new team, O’Reilly was second on the team in scoring when he went on the injured reserve, Erat finished as one of the team’s leading scorers despite missing action four seperate times, Legwand is the team’s shutdown center who always plays against the other teams’ top line, Sullivan started the season as a point-per-game guy before hitting the IR, Bouillon is a true stay-at-home defenseman that gives the Preds a consistent, physical force on the blueline, Goc has tremendous versatility and can play anywhere in the lineup and many thought Suter should have represented the Preds at this year’s All-Star Game. All of these players missed extended time yet Trotz still propelled his team to fifth place in the uber-competitive Western Conference.

Last year I went on record saying that Trotz’s nomination was a make-up nomination. Almost as if the league said “we know you’ve been really good for a long time and Phoenix’s Dave Tippett’s already got this in the bag so here you go.” In other words, I thought he’d done a better coaching job in other years that he wasn’t nominated for the Jack Adams then the year he was nominated. This year, however, is the complete opposite. He deserves this award hands down and absolutely should win. The other nominees are Vancouver Canucks Head Coach Alain Vigneault and Pittsburgh Penguins bench boss Dan Bylsma.

While an argument could be made for Bylsma as he lost the face of the NHL in Sidney Crosby and all-world winger Evgeni Malkin but still got his team to the playoffs, Vancouver was supposed to be good. And they were. That’s hardly a reason for any coach to get recognized as the Coach of the Year. You have to ask yourself, “could any other halfway decent coach gotten this team to win their division?” If the answer is “yes,” then he shouldn’t win the award, period. So Vigneault is out, in my opinion.

So the Jack Adams trophy comes down to two men: Trotz or Bylsma. And bias aside, the winner absolutely has to be the only Head Coach the Nashville Predators organization has ever known, Barry Trotz.

And deservedly so.