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NHL Midseason Awards: Mike Sullivan tops PHT Jack Adams Award voting

jack adams sullivan

Jan 28, 2022; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA; Pittsburgh Penguins head coach Mike Sullivan watches as overtime with the Detroit Red Wings concludes at PPG Paints Arena. Mandatory Credit: Philip G. Pavely-USA TODAY Sports

Philip G. Pavely-USA TODAY Sports

What goes into deciding who is the best coach in any given NHL season? Is it one who turns around a team’s fortunes year-to-year? Is it one that navigates the ups and downs that come with leading a Stanley Cup contender? That’s up to the individual voter’s criteria, which can be wide ranging.

A number of coaches have done fine jobs through the first half of the 2021-22 NHL season. But who you think wins the Jack Adams depends on your definition of influence on a team.

The Jack Awards Award is given to the “coach adjudged to have contributed the most to his team’s success.” It is voted on annually by the NHL Broadcasters’ Association.

TOTAL BALLOTS (Points allocation: 10-7-5 for 1st-2nd-3rd)

1. Mike Sullivan, Penguins - 39 (20-14-5)
2. Andrew Brunette, Panthers - 20 (20-0-0)
3. Jon Cooper, Lightning - 12 (0-7-5)
Dallas Eakins, Ducks - 10 (10-0-0)
Darryl Sutter, Flames - 7 (0-7-0)
Jared Bednar, Avalanche - 7 (0-7-0)
Rod Brind’Amour, Hurricanes - 5 (0-0-5)
John Hynes, Predators - 5 (0-0-5)
Gerard Gallant, Rangers - 5 (0-0-5)

Sean Leahy, NHL writer

1. Andrew Brunette, Panthers
2. Jon Cooper, Lightning
3. Mike Sullivan, Penguins

The day Brunette replaced Joel Quenneville, the Panthers were 7-0-0 and atop the NHL through the first two weeks of the season. That sort of abrupt change could have negatively affected many teams, but not Florida. They’ve remained atop the league on points (69) and are third in points percentage (.734). Brunette has ensured that even though the voice behind the bench changed, the process would remain the same -- and it’s paid off.

James O’Brien, NHL writer

1.Mike Sullivan, Penguins

2.Darryl Sutter, Flames

3.Jon Cooper, Lightning

The Penguins keep suffering from injuries (and keep getting older), yet here they are, in the thick of the Metro race. While the Flames might be scraping their ceiling, Sutter lifted them that far. Cooper lacking a single Jack Adams Award is a nice way of summarizing the award’s pitfalls. (Tempted to list Jared Bednar, whose Avalanche sure do navigate injuries well ...)

Adam Gretz, NHL writer

1.Mike Sullivan, Penguins

2.Jared Bednar, Avalanche

3.Rod Brind’Amour, Hurricanes

Sullivan never seems to get any attention here, and if he does not get major votes this season at this point I am not even sure what to say. His team is in contention for the top spot in the Metropolitan Division despite playing most of the first half of the season without Evgeni Malkin and without Sidney Crosby for 10 games. This team did not have very high expectations entering the season and is still one of the best teams in the league. I also do not punish coaches for having good teams, and I think Bednar and Brind’Amour are both among the league’s top coaches. While the players are the main driving force behind the success, they still play a role in their team’s dominance.

Michael Finewax, NBC Sports Edge Senior Hockey Writer/Editor

1. Dallas Eakins, Ducks
2. Mike Sullivan, Penguins
3. John Hynes, Predators

Eakins has done an outstanding job with the Ducks, especially on the power play as they scored only 11 times all of last season and have 32 already this season. He has the Ducks in a playoff spot when most pundits picked them to finish last in the Pacific. Sullivan has the Penguins in a playoff spot despite all the injuries and Nashville was not expected to compete.

Jake Abrahams, Managing Editor, NHL content

1. Andrew Brunette, Panthers
2. Mike Sullivan, Penguins
3. Gerard Gallant, Rangers

As always there are many worthy candidates for this award. I’m always hesitant to just default to the coach of the team with the best record, because I like to consider more factors than that. But in the case of Brunette (whose Panthers are right atop the NHL standings), he took over a team under challenging circumstances after Joel Quenneville’s sudden departure, and has kept the Panthers in the hunt for the Presidents’ Trophy. Oh, and this is his first time being a head coach at any level.