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NHL Awards: Babcock, Cooper, Roy named Jack Adams finalists

By Brian Stubits | CBSSports.com

Patrick Roy joins Jon Cooper and Mike Babcock as Jack Adams Award finalists. (USATSI)
Patrick Roy joins Jon Cooper and Mike Babcock as Jack Adams Award finalists. (USATSI)

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The finalists for the Jack Adams Award, given to the league's top coach, were announced on Tuesday.

They are (drumroll ...) Patrick Roy of the Colorado Avalanche, Jon Cooper of the Tampa Bay Lightning and Mike Babcock of the Detroit Red Wings.

Roy took over the Avalanche last summer for his first NHL coaching gig, taking what seemed to be a massive project. The Avs finished with the West's worst record last season and were still working in a lot of young players and working with a defense in need of work. They became the first team since the NHL expanded in 1979 to go from being in the bottom three of the league to top three from one season to the next. All the Avalanche did was win the NHL's best division (the Central), beating out the Blues and Blackhawks for that title. Being the former great goalie that he is, it certainly didn't go unnoticed that Semyon Varlamov had an outstanding season for the Avs in Roy's first year back in his old stomping grounds.

Cooper was also in his first full season as an NHL coach in Tampa Bay. Very early on he was dealt a big blow when Steven Stamkos suffered a broken leg in November. Still, his lineup that brought in rookie after rookie kept on going, and winning. Two of Tampa Bay's rookies are finalists for the Calder Trophy (Ondrej Palat and Tyler Johnson). He also was able to get the Lightning to play better defensive hockey (it helped getting the goaltending that he did from Ben Bishop) without sacrificing much offense, even sans Stamkos. Like Roy, it all resulted in the Lightning having a tremendous turnaround from one season to the next as last season the Lightning finished with the second-worst record in the East; this season they surpassed 100 points and finished second in the Atlantic.

Babcock was hardly in his first season as a coach. One of the NHL's longest-tenured coaches in Detroit, Babcock was dealt some bad cards for this season. The Red wings were constantly hit with injuries, a lineup that had very little consistency to it all year. At one point they had so many injuries that they literally ran out of stalls for the players. Despite all of that, the 421 man games lost to injury (many to their star players, too), the Red Wings extended their playoff streak to 23 straight postseason berths. Amazingly, this is only Babcock's second time being a Jack Adams finalist despite having the label of one of the best caoches in the NHL.

Each coach has a good case but it's very tough to see somebody other than Roy winning this award. He has the eye-popping resume with the drastic turnaround this season.

With the rest of the awards, the Jack Adams will be handed out at the NHL Awards Show on June 24 in Las Vegas. Unlike other awards, the Jack Adams is voted on by the league's broadcasters, not the traditional print media or GMs (who do the voting on the Vezina).

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