What does it take to be considered the coach of the year in the National Hockey League and win the coveted Jack Adams award? Is it all about the wins a team acquired throughout the season? How about the progress a franchise has made from one year to the next? In reality, there are many circumstances that must be considered when determining the which bench boss was the NHL’s best in any given season.
The 2015-16 for the Anaheim Ducks to this point can best be described as a wild roller coaster ride. Before the season began, the Ducks were at the top as many people had predicted them as their preseason Stanley Cup favorite. However, the team experienced a sudden drop to the floor as they struggled to live up to the high expectations. What occurred next can be described as a series of ups and down. Every time Anaheim appeared to make a climb up the ranks, their progress would stop abruptly and a sudden decline would occur.
Nowadays, the Ducks are on the part of the roller coaster where they are attached to that piece of machinery that assists them in their climb to the top. Anaheim is finally in first place in the Pacific Division and is only four points behind the best team in the Western Conference, the Chicago Blackhawks.
Although the Ducks’ resurgence as one of the best teams in the NHL can be credited to numerous parties, nobody can ignore the fantastic work bench boss, Bruce Boudreau, has done. When the high-powered offensive formula that brought him success in the past with both Anaheim and the Washington Capitals no longer appeared to be effective, Boudreau did not just crawl up in a ball and wait for Bob Murray to drop down the ax on his head and fire him. Instead, he altered his game plan, focussing on defense and goaltending hoping that his offense would eventually click. Recently, it has and the Ducks are enjoying the spoils of having no glaring weaknesses.
Boudreau has also demonstrated that he is not afraid to make waves by adjusting lines until he finds something that works. Breaking up Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry garnered a lot of criticism in the early stages but has now gotten praise. Boudreau has developed forward lines that show strength and depth. Teams must give the same amount of attention to the third line that they would the first line.
In addition, Boudreau has handled having two starting-caliber netminders fantastically. He is not afraid to divvy up starts based on which goalie appears to be the hottest at that particular time. Both John Gibson and Frederik Andersen feel like starting goalies for Anaheim. Neither of them appears to feel like they are not being given an appropriate amount of opportunities to show off their stuff. The big test for Boudreau in regards to the goal situation will come in the postseason when he feels more obligated to choose one goaltender to lead his team to the promise land.
Why Not Bruce?
There is no denying that Boudreau has to be a candidate for this season’s Jack Adam’s award. However, there will be those people that feel that another coach deserves it more. Boudreau must be applauded for his ability to turn this Anaheim Ducks team around when it appeared that the 2015-16 season was going to be chalked up as a complete and utter failure. However, one would argue that Anaheim should have never been in the position it found itself in during the fall months of 2015 and Boudreau is to blame for not preparing his squad enough for the beginning of the season.
A truly great coach does not experience success every time his team takes the ice. The greats possess the ability to identify the problems and make the necessary adjusts so that the team can become successful. Boudreau has been doing exactly that with Anaheim this season and he efforts must be recognized this summer by being crowned the 2015-16 NHL Coach of the Year.
John Gove is an elementary school educator who writes about hockey in his spare team. Over the past five years, John has covered the game at various levels. Now, he exclusively focuses his coverage on prospects and the developmental leagues.