Brind’Amour Deserves Jack Adams Nomination

Carolina Hurricanes head coach Rod Brind’Amour should be the leading candidate to win the Jack Adams Award, hands down. When the three finalists for the award were announced Friday, though, Brind’Amour’s name was glaringly absent. It is nothing less than a shame that he has been left out of the running.

This is not in any way intended to be a negative blast at the three finalists, St. Louis Blues’ Craig Berube, Tampa Bay Lightning’s Jon Cooper, and the New York Islanders’ Barry Trotz. But Brind’Amour should be in the conversation. That he is not a finalist is ridiculous.

Brind’Amour’s Impact on the Hurricanes

Any fan of the Blues, Lightning, or Islanders can make a case for their coach to be in the running for what is essentially a “Coach of the Year” award. According to the NHL, “The Jack Adams Award is an annual award presented by the National Hockey League Broadcasters’ Association to the NHL coach adjudged to have contributed the most to his team’s success.”

Here’s a question: “Is there any team that made a bigger turnaround this season than the Hurricanes?” Answer: “No, not even close.” The next thought would be to try to determine why they made such a big turnaround. There’s an obvious answer: They have a new coach.

It can be argued that within the season the Blues had a bigger turnaround since their record was slightly better from the beginning of the year than that of the Hurricanes. But, in terms of making a difference in the overall success of a team, Brind’Amour is in the conversation. Period.

Hurricanes head coach Rod Brind'Amour
Hurricanes head coach Rod Brind’Amour (James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports)

Of course, Brind’Amour did not lace up and don a sweater. But, his hiring by Tom Dundon set in motion the events necessary to get the Hurricanes to where they are today, up 1-0 against the New York Islanders in Round 2 of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Brind’Amour was the missing piece of a Hurricanes puzzle that had come close to being put together in recent years, but was always missing something. Bill Peters, who coached the Hurricanes for four seasons, could not get this group to the playoffs, even though there were many of the same players on his team that are on Brind’Amour’s.

In his defense, Peters had to deal with the enigma that was Alexander Semin, the “please just make a save” Eddie Lack, and the, “I wasn’t ready” Scott Darling. But Brind’Amour has had his own set of challenges to overcome this season, and he has done so admirably.

The Hurricanes have had their share of injuries, including Jordan Staal with a concussion, Andrei Svechnikov also with a concussion, Jordan Martinook with a lower-body injury, and Micheal Ferland with upper-body injuries both early in the season and in Game 3 of the series against the Washington Capitals.

Carolina Hurricanes Jordan Staal Nino Niederreiter Teuvo Teravainen Jaccob Slavin
Carolina Hurricanes Jordan Staal celebrates his goal with Nino Niederreiter, Teuvo Teravainen and Jaccob Slavin. (AP Photo/Nick Wass)

In each instance, Brind’Amour has not wavered but rather kept pressing onward to the goal of making the playoffs and more. He’s had to plug in guys who have little or no experience and they have responded with giving their all. How does that taste, Jack Edwards?

How Does That Taste, Jack Edwards?

The broadcasters voted and Brind’Amour is not a finalist. Was the job he did as a rookie coach with a team riddled with injury adversity and loaded with rookies even considered? Or, was he bypassed because of arcane attitudes like those of Boston Bruins play-by-play announcer Jack Edwards?

It’s guys like Edwards who don’t even want Carolina to have a team, and who blather on about moving the team to Quebec City, who likely didn’t give Brind’Amour the consideration he deserved when filling out their ballot for the Jack Adams Award.

But, after beating the defending Stanley Cup champion Capitals in double overtime in Game 7, and taking Game 1 from the Islanders Friday night, the Hurricanes keep exceeding expectations. If the ‘Canes keep on winning, some folks are going to have to eat a lot of crow for not including Brind’Amour as a finalist.

Brind’Amour and Leadership

On May 8, 2018, the Hurricanes named Brind’Amour as their head coach. Newly minted general manager Don Waddell said in the statement announcing the hire

Rod is the greatest leader in the history of this franchise and has earned the opportunity to take charge of our locker room.

Quite a ringing endorsement that has absolutely rung true over the course of the season. That leadership ability was not long in coming forward.

The most obvious thing that Brind’Amour did was to name Justin Williams as the Hurricanes’ captain. Why Peters didn’t is a mystery often speculated about, with no good answer forthcoming. It was the obvious thing to do, and Brind’Amour did it without hesitation.

Carolina Hurricanes Justin Williams Washington Capitals Braden Holtby
Carolina Hurricanes right wing Justin Williams works for the puck against Washington Capitals goaltender Braden Holtby (AP Photo/Nick Wass)

Jeff Gravely wrote at that the combination of Brind’Amour and Williams has definitely worked: “The combination of Williams on the ice and Brind’Amour on the bench has been a formula that worked this year with each playing off of the other as if they were line mates again.”

If Williams is Mr. Game 7, it’s because he shares the same passion for winning as does Brind’Amour. When the Hurricanes were stinking it up in December, Williams convinced them to keep playing and believing they would win. And they did. Brind’Amour believes and so does Williams. And so does the rest of the team.

They keep believing they can win and they keep winning. Martinook summarized the impact that Brind’Amour is having on the Hurricanes. He said after Game 6 against the Capitals,

I would run through hot coals for that guy.

From “I would run through hot coals for that guy’: How the Hurricanes forced a Game 7 against the defending champs” – Sara Civian – The Athletic April 23, 2019
Carolina Hurricanes' Jordan Martinook Brock McGinn
Carolina Hurricanes’ Jordan Martinook celebrates his goal with Brock McGinn (AP Photo/Chris Seward)

Martinook’s expression of loyalty to Brind’Amour spreads through the entirety of the Hurricanes roster. It is this loyalty, this commitment to Brind’Amour’s belief that they can win if they play hard and believe, that has this “Bunch of Jerks” raising eyebrows all over the league as game after game they do what most think they cannot. Except them, and that is why Brind’Amour should be a Jack Adams Award finalist.