MORLAND: Babcock Deserves Jack Adams Award

@MikeMorland

Mike Babcock by Tom Gromak, via Wikimedia Commons

Mike Babcock by Tom Gromak, via Wikimedia Commons

The Jack Adams Award, more commonly referred to as “Coach of the Year,” is actually awarded to the coach that “contributes the most to his team’s success.”

By that definition alone, Mike Babcock of the Detroit Red Wings deserves to win his first Jack Adams Award.

As of April 10, the Red Wings have lost 406 mans games this season, second most in the NHL. Throughout the season, the Red Wings have been without Patrick Eaves, Jordin Tootoo, Jonas Gustavsson, Darren Helm, Jimmy Howard, Niklas Kronwall, Jonathan Ericsson,  Johan Franzen, Brendan Smith, Stephen Weiss, Danny DeKeyser, Henrik Zetterberg, Pavel Datsyuk, Cory Emmerton, Mikael Samuelsson and Daniel Cleary for extended periods of time.

Despite the injuries, the Red Wings still managed to field a team of 18 and continue playing; mostly compiled of players from the Grand Rapids Griffins.

In his first full NHL season, Gus Nyquist has 48 points through 55 games. Thomas Tatar has tallied 37 points in his rookie year while Danny DeKeyser has four goals, 19 assists and is a plus-10. In addition to the big-name rookies on the roster, Adam Almqvist, Mitch Callahan, Landon Ferraro, Teemu Pulkkinen, Xavier Ouellet, Alexei Marchenko, Luke Glendening, Tomas Jurco and Riley Sheahan have all pitched in to Detroit’s incredible run for a 23 consecutive playoff berth.

What makes this season truly special for coach Mike Babcock is his ability to right a ship that should have sunk months ago.

While going extended periods of time without his top two forwards in Datsyuk and Zetterberg, starting goaltender Jimmy Howard and various members of his veteran core, Babcock juggled lineups as much as lines. It wasn’t always pretty, especially with 15 overtime losses (nine of those coming in the shootout), but Babcock has managed to squeeze every ounce of talent out of his depleted roster.

Through 80 games this season, the Red Wings have fewer wins (38), more overtime losses (15), fewer goals-for (218) and more-goals against (228) than the league average (40 wins, 10 overtime losses, 219 goals-for, 219 goals-against).

Statistically speaking, Mike Babcock has taken a very average team this season and turned them into a potential playoff dark horse.

Despite Mike Babcock’s success this season, Patrick Roy is the favorite to win the Jack Adams Award. The Avalanche were the Western Conference’s worst team last season, and with a rookie NHL coach, have managed to win more than 50 games for the first time in franchise history. Along with their first 100+ point season in a decade (2003-2004), it will be difficult to sway the NHL broadcasters Association.

Mike Babcock may not be the coach of the year, but has he contributed the most to his team’s success this season?

I may not have a vote, but if I did, he’d certainly have mine.