In an announcement that every NHL fan and media member saw coming months ago, the NHL announced that Ken Hitchcock will be among three finalists for the Jack Adams award for Coach of the Year. The only thing the NHL failed to announce at the same time was that this is already a done deal: there is virtually no way that Hitchcock doesn't win this award in a walk-away.
In case you've forgotten exactly what he accomplished, Hitchcock was hired by Doug Armstrong and the Blues back on Nov. 6, when the Blues were sputtering along at 6-7-0 on the young season. From that moment on, the Blues were one of the best teams in the NHL, finishing second in the Western Conference and third in the NHL with 109 points. Under the Cock, the Blues went 43-15-11 including a 30-6-5 home record.
Unless you believe the acquisition of Kris Russell on Nov. 11 was the catalyst, it's hard not to credit Hitchcock for the Blues quick turnaround and success this year.
The other two nominees are Paul MacLean of Ottawa, who guided his talented team to the eighth "no, you take it" seed in the Eastern Conference and John Tortorella, who took one of the most talented and highly-paid payrolls to the playoffs. One would have to figure that Tortorella would be the hands-down favorite if the award was for "most angry post-game tirades," but it is not.
The award will be given this summer in Las Vegas. We think Coach Hitchcock can go ahead and clear room on his shelf for the trophy now.