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Babcock, McLellan, Tortorella named Jack Adams Award Finalists

Babcock, McLellan, Tortorella named Jack Adams Award Finalists Alan Nakkash/via Flickr

Veteran coaches have been finalists before


While the Stanley Cup playoffs are in full swing, that’s not the only news coming from the NHL. Today, the league announced its Jack Adams award finalists for head coach of the year. And it’s a group of coaches that has been here before.

Mike Babcock, Todd McLellan, and John Tortorella were named the Jack Adams award finalists for the 2016-17 season on Wednesday.


Babcock led a young Toronto Maple Leafs team back to the playoffs for the first time since 2013. While they were eliminated in the first round, the Maple Leafs gave the league-leading Washington Capitals all they could handle in the six-game series.

It was a bounce back season for the 53-year-old and his team. Toronto had a 26-point improvement from last season to this one. They also had a 40-win season, their first since 2006-07. What made the turnaround really impressive was the fact that the Maple Leafs had plenty rookies play a lot of games. Six rookies played 75 or more games this season for Toronto.

It is Babcock’s third time being name a Jack Adams award finalist. He was a finalist in 2008 and 2014 while head coach of the Detroit Red Wings.

Babcock wasn’t the only coach to take a young team back to the playoffs for the first time in a while. McLellan did the same thing.


The 49-year-old has the Edmonton Oilers back in the postseason for the time since 2006. That year, the Oilers went all the way to Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final. Edmonton will play in Game 1 of the 2017 second round tonight against the Anaheim Ducks.

McLellan’s team had a slightly bigger turnaround than Babcock’s. The Oilers had a 33-point improvement from last season to this season. They had 47 wins during the 2016-17 campaign and finished second in the Pacific Division. An Edmonton team hadn’t won that many games in a season since the Wayne Gretzky-led Oilers won 50 in 1986-87.

McLellan has also been an Adams award finalist before. It occurred in 2009 when he was coaching the San Jose Sharks.


Tortorella is the oldest of the three, but doesn’t seem to be letting up. The 58-year-old led the Columbus Blue Jackets to their greatest season in franchise history. Columbus established franchise records in wins (50) and points (108) to finish third in the Metropolitan Division. They also fell one win shy of tying the NHL record for longest win streak during a season.

Columbus reached the postseason for the third time in franchise history, as well. While their run was cut short in the first round, the Blue Jackets appear to have become a Stanley Cup contender.

Of the three finalists, Tortorella is the only previous winner. He won the Jack Adams award in 2004 after leading the Tampa Bay Lighting to their only Stanley Cup championship. He was also a finalist in 2003 and 2012.

The winner will be announced at the NHL awards in Las Vegas on June 21.