The Jack Adams Award usually goes to the NHL coach who's guided the most improved team or done the most with the least.
Rarely does the coach of the year honour go to a bench boss who has an ultra- talented team.
That sentiment is understandable for the broadcasters who vote on the award.
However, after watching the job done by Chicago's Joel Quenneville during the Blackhawks' second-round series with the Vancouver Canucks, you gain a real appreciation for a coach who has a loaded squad at his disposal.
All through the series against the Vancouver Canucks, Quenneville was like a chess master against counterpart Alain Vigneault, one step ahead at every turn.
After watching his team's lack of energy in the 5-1 Game 1 loss, Quenneville inserted enforcer Ben Eager and pesky Adam Burish. It began a series filled with crafty coaching moves on Quenneville's part.
Vigneaut's response was to add toughness for Game 3, but by then, Quenneville took it up a notch by moving Dustin Byfuglien to the line with Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane, and the Canucks had no answer for Byfuglien.
To top it off, Quenneville's other moves, such as resisting the urge to skate with just five defencemen and putting Troy Brouwer back in the lineup for Game 6 after the big winger had his mind eased over his father's health, all worked out.
It can't be easy guiding a team with so many personalities -- imagine reading the words Burish says, keeping Kane and others under control but allowing them to use their flair and finding enough ice time for all the talent -- but Quenneville manages with just enough of an edge.
No, he's not the coach of the year, but an example of the right coach for the job.
It was an outstanding performance by the Abbotsford Heat to not only go to the second round of the AHL playoffs, but then push Hamilton to six games before falling. But the run doesn't mean the Flames will soon receive any huge offensive push from its prospects. Brett Sutter led the Heat attack with 11 points in 13 games (4-7-9), and we all know he has great smarts and great try, but he isn't about to blossom into a top-line winger. Mikael Backlund's nine points (1-8-9) seems about right, but from there, it was players such as Jon Rheault and John Lammers who made a big difference. It's great for the organization defenceman Matt Pelech played well and has to be close to breaking into the NHL, and young players such as Mitch Wahl and Lance Bouma received an early taste of the pro game, but the cavalry isn't coming soon ... Wonderful to see the WHL Hitmen finally return to the Memorial Cup. A couple of players from the 1999 team which reached it are carving out nice careers in Europe and passing on their knowledge this summer. Brad Moran and Matt Kinch are hosting the Kinch Moran Hockey School July 5-9 at Westside Recreation Centre. The camp is for players age 6-14. Check out kinchmoranhockeyschool.com.
Who else is eating piles of crow with Montreal knocking out both Washington and Pittsburgh? We'd need a big table ... It really does hurt the NHL not being on ESPN, because Versus is on too few channels in the U.S., but Versus is doing a great job. In the first round, the network was showing double-headers. ESPN never gave the NHL that kind of attention. Now, if only more people could tune into Versus ... Anybody else finding it bizarre the NHL's Playoff Central link on the league website is presented by BlackBerry? The league won't allow Jim Balsillie to buy a team but has no problem taking his money. Then again, maybe it's the first step for Balsillie to get back into everybody's good graces. Lord knows the NHL will need him to own a team the way things are looking ... Debate this: Are the Boston Bruins blowing their series with Philadelphia or the Flyers winning it? ... Even though the San Jose Sharks won the Western Conference title in the regular season, it still feels like the Blackhawks will win that series in five games, six at the most. Chicago's speedy forwards could have a field day with Sharks defencemen Rob Blake and Douglas Murray ... The Vancouver Canucks have to revisit Roberto Luongo as captain. Not because of his performance, but a goalie can't do all the jobs needed, such as talk to officials and take control of the room.
You don't say
"As much crap as we've taken and the reputation here, it's unfair. There's so many different faces here. We believe in ourselves."
-- San Jose's Dan Boyle