Quenneville to win 2011 Jack Adams Award as Best NHL Coach--I bet

Considering that it's outlandish, irresponsible and crazy to make any predictions about what will happen almost a year from now, I'm happy to oblige. Nuts R Us.

Joel Quenneville starts the 2010-11 NHL season as the favorite to claim the Jack Adams Award as the best coach in the league. In fact, I say he wins it.

Get me Las Vegas on the phone. I'll take 10-1.

Winning the Adams, though, is often a double-edged sword, because that guy often doesn't win the Cup. So winning the Adams can be viewed as a curse, too, when it simply confirms you're not the best coach that season when the skating stops.

Only three coaches have won the Adams and the Cup, beginning with the first year the award was issued to Philadelphia's Fred Shero in 1974.

By definition, to win the Adams you have to be "adjudged to have contributed the most to (your) team's success."

The archaic definition of adjudge is to condemn or sentence. The NHL is extremely familiar with archaic languages and rules. Many coaches have thus been condemned to win the Adams, and lose the war.

Hell of an award, ain't it, since losers usually win it. At least his bonus won't count against next year's salary cap when Q wins it, for which Brent Seabrook is eternally grateful.

I'm optimistically expecting Quenneville to return the Adams to its proper place as an honor and not a consolation prize.

Personally, I thought the quintessential Quenneville deserved consideration last season for the Adams. But sherpherding a strongwilled group to a Stanley Cup title isn't considered the right storyline when it comes for the voting members from the NHL broadcasters to define coaching excellence.

Even when that achievement happens every 60 years or so. Just not enough inherent drama in a city that seldom wins anything. Then again, why anybody would think it not that hard to live up to expectations and meet every one of them--particularly when those expectations are enormous--escapes my perception of the world.

The Blackhawks were well-coached Cinderfellas if I ever saw one, even if you want to quibble with a Q decision or two. And yet...

Q finished a weak 8th in the coaching race, even beaten handily by Mike Babcock (4th place) because of Detroit's ability to overcome injury and compete. Didn't compete as well as Chicago, but that was beside the point for voters.

Babcock even got two first-place vote, whereas Q got none.

Permit me to scratch my head. Must be the bed-bug epidemic.

Now, you tell me what perfect sense it makes that the Hawks finally put Detroit down in their rightful place in the division and Babcock is still ranked higher than Q's quality quest when it comes to leaguewide recognition. Nonsense sounds like the right answer.

Either that or lack of imagination. And having been a sportswriter and rubbed a shoulder or two with the screaming mimi's of the airwaves I know that a lack of imagination can be a serious genetic defect in both professions.

The voters prefer finding a Lazarus, aka Dave Tippett, who raised Phoenix from the dead, although you've only got to dabble in mythology to know a phoenix is born to be burnt to rice krispies and emerge from the ashes as a young phoenix. And round and round we go.

So where's the fun in that. Predestination and all that. The mythological fix was in for Tippett to win Coach of the Year last season.

Just for keeping a handle on the many diverse Blackhawks personalities, I think Quenneville deserves more credit than he gets. Now, with a reshuffled deck that features some old aces and some new jokers, Quenneville has a perfect storyline for biting into the Adams apple and polishing his reputation.

This season he is Jack Adams material largely because he has a team of champions that look as though it's been in a serious off-season car crash and not everyone survived, leaving scars and a slight limp as the roster moves forward.

This is rather neat plot material, easy for broadcasters to understand--how is Q going to stitch the pieces back together and defend the crown? Ah, I get it.

If the teams wins, or even comes close, Q wins the Adams. Simple as that. Just a cute little story and goodness knows the Hawks excel at selling cute.

Plus, I have precedence on my side. Q won the Adams in his third full season as St. Louis coach. We won't count 1996-97 when he replaced Mike Keenan midseason, because anybody who replaces Hitler is immediately considered a God-send.

In 1999-2000, the Blues made good on their building improvements the two years previous and went 51-19-11. Only to lose in the first round to San Jose. So an Adams award for Q that year was cold soup, as it has been for many.

This time he wins it a different way and in style. He mixes and matches to his heart's content, turns some question marks into answers, develops young talent into new impact players, gets another boost from the continued blossoming with Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane and Duncan Keith and Niklas Hjalmarsson as his anchors, ekes the last remaining drops out of goalie Marty Turco's experienced hands and returns the Hawks to another championship.

Our dreams from last summer came true. Why not again?

Scotty Bowman, who obviously had an influential hand in Quenneville replacing Denis Savard behind the bench, won two Jack Adams--1976-77 for Montreal, then again in 1995-96 for Detroit.

Bowman is one of just three NHL coaches to win the Adams and win the Cup. For Bowman, that double dip of success happened with Montreal.

So Quenneville now must go where only Bowman, Shero and a Tampa Bay Lightning strike named John Tortorella have ventured before.

Win the Cup. Win the Adams.

Only one means a damn thing. But if the Hawks are to defend the crown with an impressive display of grit, I believe it should be a twin killing for Q.

Quenneville will have his work cut out for him. And that makes him one of the prime Adams candidates right from the first drop of the puck, even if he is a coach that currently is sitting on top of the heap.

Staying there is harder than getting there. The Stache has some staying power.

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  • Thank you Mike for throwing us a frickin bone. I am among the people who was not overly impressed with Q last year. Even with the injuries to the Wings, I was not looking forward to seeing them in the playoffs and it seems kind of interesting that it was a Bab's apprentice to slay the Wings rather then the Hawks. I hate to say it, but I felt like Q got outcoached almost every time he faced Babs. Likewise, I thought he got outcoached by Trotz and nearly lost that series. Still, regardless of breaks, it was he and not the others who won last year and he deserves credit for that despite not being Adams worthy.

    This year, I agree with you that if he reloads with the new kids and competes again for the cup, that will be an Adams worthy achievement. If he can turn that roster into a cohesive unit that is able to live with the bull's eye on it's back next season and make every team they play earn the victory he will have this knucklehead's vote for whatever that's worth.

  • In reply to nklhd12:

    I guess we could argue matchups and such through infinity and beyond. But if it's true as you say that Q got outcoached too much, imagine how good we should have it if he gets with the program. We'll win a championship. Oh, yeah, we already did. Just win, baby. Others can debate the details. I'm more of a Q backer than some. Since hockey has been bone dry for news lately, as you say, why not rally round my guy.

  • In reply to JMKiley:

    The line juggling annoyed me to no end, but the inconsistency and repeated stupid plays was what had me yelling at the screen. Some nights I thought he did get outcoached but on quite a few nights I also felt his team got out worked, which is not the same thing as getting out played. The preds series was perhaps the clearest example of how they could be beaten by a very simple game plan, but as you all know, I bitched about that all season. With a bunch of kids who have every reason to play hard and do what they are told, I actually think Q has a very good opportunity here, especially now that he and his core have seen what it takes to win. I'm ready to rally round the Q stash.

  • In reply to nklhd12:

    The Preds play a type of style that the Hawks don't match up well with. Then again, the Preds gave lots of teams fits. 47 wins, 100 points and the most 1-goal victories in the league back that up.

    In the end, Nashville won 2 of 6 games in that series, and one of those was a 1-goal win in which they got one of the flukiest goals you'll see.

  • In reply to nklhd12:

    Niemi, 1 year, 2 million with San Jose. Ha, funny how things work out.

  • In reply to nklhd12:

    Also just a random thought, I think Patrick Kane is a lot more motivated than people give him credit for being. Yea he likes to play the cool young millionaire celebrity card when the situation pops up but who wouldn't? I think at the end of the day he's really motivated to be one of the best in the league. His improvement from 08/09 to 09/10 was considerable in my opinion and Q said at the Sox game last week that Kane has been working hard and is stronger and better conditioned then he's ever seen him.

  • In reply to JMKiley:

    If Q just keeps Kane out of trouble he should get the Jack Adams. He may have to start the season with an intervention!

    This team is by no means on auto-pilot this coming season. I'm with Mike. The coaching will be the key to this season's win more than last year's. This year is different with half the team plus 1 assistant coach as unknown commodities.

  • In reply to nklhd12:

    I'm not sure how I feel about this one Mike. If the Hawks repeat this year I think it will be because of the superstar performances of Kane and Toews. This year will be Q's easiest of his Hawk's career because he simply needs guys to show up and perform. There's not much mixing and matching to do. The roster isn't built with tons of interchangeable pieces, it's pretty much set and it will either work or it won't. I know the NHL loves a rise from the dirt story like Phoenix but I think Q got shafted this year by not bringing home the award.

    He was given a roster with unlimited potential and depth along with 2 questionable goalies. He also knew that he had 1 year to make this thing gel because if he didn't bring home the Cup the entire team would be dismantled because of cap issues. Even with this daunting task he mixed and matched and came out on top. Imagine the buzz around the Hawks right now if they hadn't won the Cup. Q's job of being given everything he needs and turning it into a championship is more impressive to me than Tippett taking a non playoff team and getting them into the postseason. Besides, if any coach was given a goalie who performed like Bryzgalov this year he could have taken his team into the playoffs as well.

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