OTTAWA - Paul MacLean's work did not go unnoticed.
The Senators' bench boss brought home the hardware Friday when he won the Jack Adams Award as the NHL's coach of the year ahead of Joel Quenneville of the Chicago Blackhawks and Bruce Boudreau of the Anaheim Ducks.
A runner-up for the trophy last spring, MacLean, 55, was recognized for his work after helping get the club to the playoffs for the second straight year, despite being without as many as seven regulars during the regular season.
The award came on the day MacLean -- who had been a lifetime assistant -- was celebrating his two-year anniversary of being named to his first NHL coaching job with the Senators -- June 14, 2011.
"That's a little ironic," said MacLean when told about the anniversary by the Sun on a conference call. "When I got the opportunity, all the work I put into being a coach I think has paid off. I was ready for it. I'm not really overwhelmed by the position at the age that I am and the experience that I have.
"I just think sticking to it and still believing in what I did as an assistant coach has helped me now that I've got the opportunity to be the head coach. This kind of gives us credibility that all those times when I was thinking that I could do this, now this kind of gives me the credibility that I was right, I could coach in the league.
"Now I'm just scared to freaking death, so I've got to do it again."
Top defencemen Erik Karlsson and Jared Cowen, winger Milan Michalek, centre Jason Spezza and goaltender Craig Anderson were all gone for significant stretches with injuries during the year.
MacLean didn't let injuries become a distraction and the Senators overcame adversity by finishing with a 25-17-6 record to grab the No. 7 seed in the Eastern Conference.
Not only did the Senators surprise many by making the playoffs in the first place, they also knocked off the Montreal Canadiens 4-1 in Round 1 before being eliminated by the Pittsburgh Penguins -- 4-1 -- in Round 2.
"His people skills are outstanding," said GM Bryan Murray. "I think the fact that you can communicate -- you can allow players to have questions and answers, and some input into what you are doing -- obviously that, along with his teaching skills and his patience and understanding of the game (are strengths).
"There are a whole combination of things that make certain players (and) certain people successful in their trade. And Paul, when you combine the skills of the communication, the teaching ability, the history of playing and being involved in the game, I think he knows what it takes to get players to play hard and better -- to teach them to develop or help them develop and give opportunities."
Heading into the final year of his contract, MacLean can also expect to rewarded with an extension. The two sides have been working on a new deal and it's believed they'll get something in place before the start of the season.
MacLean said he didn't get this recognition by himself.
He gave credit to Murray, assistant GM Tim Murray, chief scout Pierre Dorion and player development head Randy Lee along with the coaching staff for providing the tools for success.
"It's a great day for our organization," said captain Daniel Alfredsson. "Paul has had a great start to his head coaching career. He's been well-groomed in Detroit, knew what to do when he came in.
"It's quite an accomplishment. His leadership has been something that we definitely needed as an organization. We were kind of going backwards until he came in, steadied the ship, got us going in the right direction. It's very well-deserved. I'm really happy for him."
Alfredsson wasn't alone on that front.
Point totals in voting for the Jack Adams Award as NHL coach of the year (first-place votes in brackets)
1. Paul MacLean, Senators 206 (28)
2. Joel Quenneville, Blackhawks 160 (22)
3. Bruce Boudreau, Ducks 88 (6)
4. Michel Therrien, Canadiens 78 (10)
5. Jack Capuano, Islanders 47 (5)
6. Dan Bylsma, Penguins 40 (4)
7. Randy Carlyle, Leafs 40 (3)
8. Adam Oates, Capitals 40 (2)
9. Todd Richards, Blue Jackets 37 (3)
10. Mike Babcock, Red Wings 7 (0)