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Canucks’ Rick Tocchet wins Jack Adams Award as NHL’s coach of the year

Tocchet wins Jack Adams

The Vancouver Canucks had a phenomenal regular season, particularly when you consider where they were just one year ago.

A year ago, the Canucks finished the season with a 38-37-7 record for 83 points — 12 points out of the playoff picture — and had a minus-22 goal differential. This season, the Canucks reached 50 wins, 109 points, and had a plus-56 goal differential.

It’s fitting, then, that head coach Rick Tocchet was recognized for his role in that impressive turnaround, winning the Jack Adams Award as the NHL’s coach of the year.

Tocchet was initially named as one of three finalists for the Jack Adams Award three weeks ago alongside Nashville Predators head coach Andrew Brunette and Winnipeg Jets coach Rick Bowness. Ultimately, the vote wasn't particularly close, as Tocchet received 82 out of 114 first-place votes and was a top-three pick on 109 of those 114 ballots. Brunette received the next most first-place votes, with eight.

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The award, voted on by the NHL Broadcasters Association at the end of the regular season, is meant to go “to the coach adjudged to have contributed the most to his team’s success.” With that criteria in mind, how could the award go to anyone else?

The Canucks exceeded expectations more than any other team in the NHL, winning the Pacific Division when they were considered a coin flip to even make the playoffs. 

Much of that can be attributed to the structure Tocchet instituted — a system that drastically improved the team’s defensive results even as they were still one of the highest-scoring teams in the league. The Canucks scored the sixth most goals in the NHL during the regular season and also had the fifth-lowest goals against.

Beyond the system, the Canucks adopted Tocchet’s business-like attitude, an approach that kept them even-keeled throughout all of the highs and lows of the season. They became a team that always believed they could come back from any deficit as long as they remained calm and stuck to their gameplan. 

That paid off in the playoffs, as the Canucks staged some incredible comebacks during their run. Tocchet deserves a ton of credit for helping them become such a resilient team.

Tocchet, however, was quick to spread the credit around when the finalists were initially announced. 

“Honestly, it’s an organizational award for me,” said Tocchet. “It’s the GM, the ownership, the assistant coaches, players, you’re a piece of the puzzle...I’ve got a huge support group that helps me, so that’s the way I look at it.”

As an organizational award, it's the third in franchise history for the Canucks. The legendary Pat Quinn won the Jack Adams in the 1991-92 season, while Alain Vigneault won the Jack Adams in the 2006-07 season.

It seems notable that Quinn and Vigneault took the Canucks to a Stanley Cup Final after winning the Jack Adams. For Quinn, it came two seasons later, while it took four seasons and a change in management for Vigneault to coach the Canucks to a Cup Final. 

Will Tocchet do the same in the coming years?



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