The 2019 NHL Awards were last night and I don’t blame you if you didn’t watch it. For one, no Winnipeg Jets were up for awards this year and two, the show is basically one big cringe fest. For 364 days hockey culture dictates that players don’t draw attention to themselves or show any personality and be as vanilla as humanly possible, and the 365th day is the one day the NHL has an elaborate awards ceremony to trot out those plain-as-white-paint players onto a stage for the entire world to see just how awkward they are when a live mic is stuck in their face with the expectation for them to say and do funny things.
Woah, went on a bit of a rant there didn’t I? Anyway, Wednesday night (And of course it was on a Wednesday which is the most vanilla day of the entire week. Ok I’ll stop now.) the NHL handed out it’s regular season hardware.
Barry Trotz won the Jack Adams Award which is awarded to the coach who is “adjudged to have contributed the most to his team’s success.” The award is voted on by the NHL Broadcasters’ Association.
Hard to argue with their call on this one. Trotz, who had just helped coach the Washington Capitals to a Stanley Cup in 2018, left the club as his contract had expired and was hired by the New York Islanders. A New York Islanders club it should be pointed out that had just lost it’s franchise star to free agency when John Tavares signed with the Toronto Maple Leafs. All Trotz ended up doing was helping guide the Islanders to a 48-27-7 record, a 23 point improvement over how the Isles did the year previous.
But that wasn’t the most interesting part or biggest story about the voting for the Jack Adams Award. The biggest story to come out of the results of the NHL Broadcasters’ Association’s voting for the NHL’s coach of the year was that one person game Winnipeg Jets Head Coach Paul Maurice a vote.
A first place vote no less.
Paul Maurice got as many first place votes as Bruins coach Paul Cassidy (Voting is done before the playoffs happen so Cassidy’s run to the Cup Final isn’t considered here, or else if it was Craig Berube is your runaway winner) and two less votes for coach of the year than Bill Peters and Rod Brind’Amour who led their teams to completely unexpected successes in the regular season.
Even if you were to take the first round playoff exit out of the discussion, the 2018-19 regular season was somewhat disappointing for the Winnipeg Jets. It was marked with wildly inconsistent play, multiple games where late third period leads were given up, rumors of a splintered dressing room and multiple stretches of stubbornly sticking with lines that were being shutdown on a nightly basis by opposing teams.
The Jets record after February 1 was a mediocre 14-14-3 as they managed to choke away a double digit point lead for first place in the Central division to the Nashville Predators and needed a win on the last day of the season just to stay ahead of the Blues and not outright lose home-ice advantage in the first round of the playoffs. Not that home ice was meaning a whole lot near the end as the Jets lost their last four games in Winnipeg to close out the regular season.
And yet somehow with all of that, someone felt Paul Maurice was the best coach the National Hockey League had to offer this year. Better than Berube, better than Trotz, better than Peters or even Peter Laviolette who did manage to guide his team to first place in the Central for the Nashville Predators and somehow couldn’t even get a vote at all.
The funny thing in all this is I personally like Paul Maurice. I’m not on the “fire Maurice” bandwagon at all – although I am a member of the ‘he better be on the hottest of seats to start the season’ club – but a first place vote here seems so ridiculous. Any type of vote would be crazy, but a first place vote especially so.
Someone voted for him to be the NHL’s 2019 coach of the year. We have to find out who. Was it a personality that covers the Jets? Was it an old broadcasting buddy from the time he worked in TV? Did someone feel guilty for not giving him a first place nod in 2018’s voting where Maurice finished fourth but had zero first place votes?
Sadly, we may never know. While the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association makes it a policy to release the details of their award voting, it’s unclear if the NHL Broadcasters’ Association will do the same.
FYI, the Jack Adams is voted on by members of the broadcasters association, not those of us in @ThePHWA. All our votes are made public for the awards we have a say in – Norris, Selke, Calder, Lady Byng, Hart and All-Stars. Not sure if that’s the case for broadcasters.
— Mike McIntyre (@mikemcintyrewpg) June 20, 2019
This could go down as one of the greatest Winnipeg hockey mysteries of all-time. Who gave Paul Maurice a first place Jack Adams vote?
It’s a question we may never find the answer for.