John Tortorella

With the 2019-20 NHL regular season concluded, Alain Vigneault should win the Jack Adams Award

With the 2019-20 NHL regular season concluded, Alain Vigneault should win the Jack Adams Award

In general manager Chuck Fletcher’s first offseason with the Flyers, he had quite an extensive to-do list before October came around. While adding depth and a few new faces to the roster were toward the top of the list, nothing was more important than the task of bringing in a new head coach.

Many had their sights set on Joel Quennville, who was fired by the Blackhawks early in the 2018-19 season. It was a shock to the hockey world, considering he helped Chicago bring home three Stanley Cups over the course of 10 years. Ultimately, he chose to go to Florida. No, not to retire. Quennville was off to his new team the Panthers to be their bench boss. 

Eventually, news broke that Alain Vigneault was coming to town. Like every other offseason acquisition, the response was all over the place. Little did Philadelphia know at the time, but it just received a perfect fit for its city, its team and the organization.

It is an honor to be selected as the next head coach of the Flyers," Vigneault said following his hire. "The history they have established and the passionate fan base has made this a first-class franchise. I am excited to work with Chuck, the talented group of players and prospects coming up through the system, in order to return Philadelphia to the top of the NHL landscape.

Who knew that in just a few short months, the Flyers would in fact be near the top of the NHL landscape once more. Again, a lot of this is owed to Fletcher and his moves in the offseason and around the trade deadline — but when you look at the team’s overall success on a nightly basis? That’s all Vigneault.

There was a mentality tilt this season in comparison to prior ones. The locker room had a different vibe right from the jump and you could sense how it has positively affected the Flyers' overall game. Vigneault has also shown he is not afraid to speak up and be honest to his players and the media to give his team a kick in the right direction.

The abrupt halt to the NHL season has been rough for many — especially Flyers fans, as they had been anticipating a season precisely like this one for quite some time. The official word was released that if hockey does return, the league will go straight to the playoffs, meaning the 2019-20 regular season has concluded. Now, since that’s the case, league awards will have to be given out based on the condensed season — all the more reason to name Vigneault coach of the year. 

A few key examples

• From the beginning of training camp, he didn’t hold back when discussing his thoughts on Travis Konecny and the need to have him here to get familiar with the new faces and systems in the organization. Thankfully for the Flyers, Konecny and the team came to terms, he arrived shortly after and is having the best season of his young career. 

• Vigneault has not been afraid to call out the veterans on the team, either. Knowing what his players are capable of, it’s important for him to get the best out of them.  

• When the Flyers released a statement that Oskar Lindblom had been diagnosed with Ewing’s sarcoma, it was a difficult time for everyone. Sports aside, the human aspect of it all is mentally draining. Lindblom has received such overwhelming support from players, fans and especially Vigneault — always referencing his “great smile” when the 23-year-old forward attends a game or practice.  

• Looking at a near-complete season without Nolan Patrick (migraine disorder), a shortened season from Lindblom and injuries that popped up throughout the whole season — James van Riemsdyk with a broken hand, Shayne Gostisbehere’s knee injury, Scott Laughton and Michael Raffl’s broken fingers and Konecny missing a handful of games because of a concussion … it’s safe to say it never looked like this team was missing a key player. That’s all due to call-ups and how Vigneault adjusted his lines every time the Flyers hit the ice. 

Vigneault has been everything the city could want in a coach and more. And while there certainly are a handful of other coaches within the league that are also deserving of this award (John Tortorella in Columbus, Travis Green in Vancouver), nothing comes close to the case the new bench boss has made in Philadelphia.

Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Flyers, Sixers and Phillies games easily on your device.

More on the Flyers

NHL Notes: Blue Jackets coach John Tortorella gets 1-year extension

uspresswire-bluejackets-john-tortorella.jpg
USA Today Images

NHL Notes: Blue Jackets coach John Tortorella gets 1-year extension

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- John Tortorella of the Columbus Blue Jackets is getting a one-year contract extension following a season in which he was the NHL's Coach of the Year.

General Manager Jarmo Kekalainen announced the move Monday. Financial terms were not released.

Tortorella was entering the last year of a five-year, $10 million deal he signed with Vancouver in 2013.

Since joining Columbus on Oct. 21, 2015, Tortorella has led the Blue Jackets to an 84-57-16 record and .586 winning percentage.

Columbus had a 50-24-8 record and 108 points last year, the NHL's fourth-best record. This was a 32-point turnaround from 2015-16.

Sabres: Beaulieu avoids arbitration with 2-year, $4.8M deal 
BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Newly acquired Buffalo Sabres defenseman Nathan Beaulieu has agreed to a two-year, $4.8 million deal in foregoing the opportunity to have his contract determined at an arbitration hearing.

The Sabres announced the agreement on Monday, five days before both sides were scheduled to present their case before an NHL arbitrator. Beaulieu was a restricted free agent.

Buffalo gave up a third-round draft pick to acquire Beaulieu in a trade with Montreal on June 17 after the Canadiens were prepared to expose the player in the expansion draft.

The 24-year-old Beaulieu had a career-best four goals and 24 points in 74 games in his third full NHL season. Overall, he has seven goals and 53 assists in 225 career games.

Beaulieu is a puck-moving defenseman who is regarded to be a good fit under newly hired head coach Phil Housley.

Wild: With long-term deal, Niederreiter can finally relax
Nino Niederreiter has been bold enough with his hobbies to ride on the outside of an airplane . On the ice, he plays a fearless game with a thick frame that's tough to knock off the puck around the net.

The last few months, though, he found himself feeling a little anxious.

Niederreiter was a restricted free agent who filed for salary arbitration, and the long-term contract he expected with the Minnesota Wild, a deal they spoke openly of desiring to complete, had not yet come together. The arbitration hearing scheduled in Toronto was coming closer and closer.

"I wouldn't say I wasn't worried. Obviously the longer the summer went, the more you start thinking," Niederreiter said, adding: "All of a sudden you have to make plans for Toronto and all that stuff. Obviously you get a little nervous. You never want to go to Toronto and make a deal there."

He didn't have to. The Wild and Niederreiter agreed to terms on a five-year contract worth $26.25 million on Sunday night, keeping him under the team's control through the 2021-22 season. His average annual salary is $5.25 million, which is what the hit will be against the Wild's cap.

"He's grown into his role as one of the offensive leaders of this group, and his shot and net-front presence will continue to play a major role in our team's success," general manager Chuck Fletcher said in announcing the deal. "Nino has a great attitude and personality, and we know our fans will be as happy as we are" (see full story).