The 2019-20 NHL season has been anything but ordinary. As the regular season has officially concluded, awards have become a major discussion point while fans, media and players await the start of training camp on July 10.
One of the more intense debates has been for who should win the Jack Adams Award. At the midway point of the season, there were a handful of coaches who had their names in the mix, but one remained up in the air — Flyers’ bench boss Alain Vigneault.
Friday morning, NHL.com released an update, tracking awards based off the 18 staff writers who cast their vote following the end of the regular season. While he might have been an underdog for the majority of his first year with the Flyers, it’s no secret now that Vigneault means business. For a while, it was something only fans knew, but as the Flyers continued to rise, and shut down all forms of doubt, it became more difficult to hide the talent of their head coach from national media and NHL fans.
He found a way to put the Flyers on the map and now everyone is taking notice.
(Image credit: @NHL)
Vigneault has continuously improved the Flyers from the start of the season and now has one of the most compelling cases to win the whole thing.
What has stood out the most is that he became more than a coach — he became a strong, well-respected leader to a team that desperately needed it behind the bench.
When it came to games, he was never afraid to be honest about the status of the Flyers — whether it be positive or negative. He never beat around the bush and made sure to address issues at hand, all while holding players accountable. It made for a strong team, mentally, and it showed. The team had become a unit, communication was key and it made heads turn every time the Flyers traveled to a different town — as they held a new identity compared to the one of last season. That’s all Vigneault.
There was never room for excuses either — not for poor or lazy losses (though those were rare this season to begin with), not for injuries, not for ridiculous travel schedules. Every game and shift mattered, collecting two points was crucial night in and out and if something wasn’t working? He tweaked things and made adjustments until it started clicking once more.
The label of mediocrity had disappeared. He knew it, players knew it and eventually, so did fans — even the ones who have been doubters for years. It was noticeable at the beginning of the season, but when it was apparent they weren’t cooling off, but rather heating up as the race to the playoffs began, things became clear as day.
Talk of the Flyers sneaking their way into the first round, hoping to claim a wildcard spot was no more. It transformed into a hunger to win the whole darn thing.
It’s funny, really — how long it took for others around the league to realize just how much Vigneault was transforming things in Philadelphia. Truth be told, he should have appeared on everyone’s radar before the season even started, thanks to the “Behind the Glass” series that aired on the NHL Network.
There are many great coaches in the NHL this year, but their stories are not even comparable to the one of Vigneault. He pointed the Flyers in the right direction for the first time in nearly a decade — and that’s something worth recognizing. Let's hope it is by awarding him the Jack Adams.
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