ST. LOUIS — Jared Bednar has fallen behind — in a good way — with the Jack Adams Award voting for NHL coach of the year.
The Avalanche coach, the club’s all-time winningest bench boss, was not among the three announced finalists for the 2022 award Thursday. But based on his body of work, Bednar certainly should have been — and he should have already won it at least once in his five previous years in Colorado.
He was a finalist in 2018 after leading the Avs from an NHL-worst 22 wins and 48 points in his rookie season of 2016-17 to the playoffs the following year. And he should have been again last year after leading Colorado to the President’s Trophy with the league’s best record.
But TNT analyst Darren Pang, who is among the league’s broadcasters who vote for the award, said the winner is typically the coach who wasn’t supposed to win.
“The great players are overshadowing the job that coaches have done. It’s the facts,” Pang said Saturday from Enterprise Center, where he also covers the Blues. “The guy that should be winning the award is Joe Sakic. If your coach is being overshadowed by the great players that are here, then your GM should be winning the GM of the year, when it comes down to it.
“One of the two should be winning something because it’s a well-thought-of team, a well-put-together team.”
Bednar led the Avs to a club-record 119 points and the Western Conference’s No. 1 playoff seed this season. But TNT play-by-play announcer Brendan Burke echoed Pang’s thoughts that the Jack Adams doesn’t celebrate that sort of achievement.
“Jack Adams has become a coach that exceeds expectations — not the best coach,” said Burke, who had Bednar among his three votes this year. “It usually goes to the coach of a team that wasn’t going to be that good and now they’re good.”
So Bednar is beyond good. He is the first coach in Avalanche history to lead teams to five consecutive playoff berths, compiling a regular-season record of 240-168-46 (.579). Hired by the Avs in August 2016, Bednar is the third-longest tenured coach in the NHL behind Tampa Bay’s Jon Cooper (March 2013) and Pittsburgh’s Mike Sullivan (December 2015).
Bednar entered Saturday with a 29-18-1 record in 48 postseason games, the second-best playoff winning percentage (.604) among active coaches behind Cooper (.605).
Cooper, who led the Lightning to Stanley Cup glory the last two years, also has never won the Jack Adams Award. Bednar gets it.
“It doesn’t bother me. I don’t take it personally at all,” Bednar said Saturday of not being a finalist. “I’m a realist and I could nominate eight, nine coaches, and if any of those guys won it, I’d be, ‘Yep, he deserved it.’
“So there’s so many different aspects of the coach of the year and the three guys that all got nominated — very deserving.”
Florida’s Andrew Brunette is a 2022 finalist along with the Rangers’ Gerard Gallant and Calgary’s Darryl Sutter. Brunette did a nice job as a rookie NHL head coach after inheriting a great Panthers lineup in October when Joel Quenneville resigned under pressure. The Rangers and Flames overachieved.
Three good choices. But Bednar was as good or better.
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The Saskatchewan native said the most deserving people don’t always win awards.
Avs captain Gabe Landeskog, for example, should annually be up for the Selke Trophy as the NHL’s best defensive forward. But he’s never been a finalist.
“I think Landy should be in that mix every year and we never hear his name,” Bednar said. “He’s one of the best defensive forwards in the game and he still puts up big numbers offensively.”
Bednar and Landeskog really only want to win one trophy — the Stanley Cup. And they can do it together.