Photo: AP

With the NHL placing the season on hold due to the recent Coronavirus outbreak it was a chance to take a step back from the game reviews and look at some other aspects of the game. One in particular that intrigued me is the the upcoming end of season awards, whenever that may be, so starting today I will be looking at these and giving my own, sometimes biased, opinions on possible winners. First up is the Jack Adams award.

The Jack Adams award goes to the coach adjudged to have contributed the most to his team’s success and was first awarded at the end of the 1973-74 season. It is named after the Hall of Famer who played for Toronto, Ottawa and Vancouver but is better known for his long association with the Detroit Red Wings as both head coach and general manager.

This year you can’t look past Craig Berube who after winning the Stanley Cup with the St Louis Blues last season has led them to top of the Central Division so far this season. However I will, as I name Colorado Avalanche’s Jared Bednar as my pick for the prestigious award. While Berube has done fantastic I am playing the long game here with Bednar and looking at what he has achieved since joining the Av’s.

Dropped into the job a month before camp began after Patrick Roy walked away citing a difference of opinion on the direction the team were taking, Bednar had no time to implement ideas or staff and paid the price with one of the worse seasons in Avalanche history. They closed out their season with a record of 22–56–4 and 48 points, the worst record in the league and the franchise’s worst since moving to Denver (only the 1989–90 and 1990–91 Nordiques finished with fewer points). It was also the worst record of any team in the NHL since the Atlanta Thrashers finished with a record of 14–61–7 and 39 points in the 1999–2000 season (which was their first season in the league).

Since that first year when his winning percentage was .293 he has led the Avalanche to two above .500 seasons and playoff appearances while this year he led a .657 win percentage until the suspension of the season. This has been achieved despite losing Gabriel Landeskog, Mikko Rantanen, Nazem Kadri, Andre Burkovsky, Joonas Donskoi, Matt Calvert, Colin Wilson, Ian Cole, Cale Makar and now Nathan MacKinnon to injury for parts of the season. Despite all these injuries, and the fact the Avalanche top 20 was the youngest of all NHL teams at the beginning of the season, he has led the Avalanche to second in the Central Division, two points behind the Blues with one less game played.

In 2018 Jared Bednar, who was in the running for the same award, lost out to Gerard Gallant despite leading the Avalanche to a 95 point season and to the playoffs only one season after that horrific 48 point finish. Gallant, in his defense, had led the Vegas Golden Knights to the Stanley Cup finals in their inaugural season to capture the attention of the hockey world and beyond.

Makar shines in return as Av’s edge out Rangers

This year should be different for a coach who has a winning culture everywhere he’s been. Jared Bednar has shown a consistency over the past three years when it comes to improvement, helped obviously by GM Joe Sakic, but has achieved all this during a time the club were suppose to be rebuilding.

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