Alain Vigneault has probably had one of the more interesting first years in Flyers and NHL history. It might just end with a little hardware too.
On Wednesday, June 15th the NHL announced its nominees for the Jack Adams Award, the NHL trophy for coach of the year. AV’s competition will include the Boston Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy and the Columbus Blue Jackets firebrand John Tortorella. It isn’t Vigneault’s first time up the ladder, having previously won the award in the 06-07 season as the coach of the Canucks, and has been a 3-time runner up.
This year Vigneault lead the team to a 41-21-7 record for a total of 89 points in 69 games. Projecting out, the Flyers were on pace for 105 points, their most since the 2010-11 campaign.
AV was the lead bench boss of a three-headed monster this season. That may prove to count against him in the long run. He’s flanked by Michal Therrien who was one of the folks Vigneault beat in the 06-07 Jack Adams race and Mike Yeo, who was on Therrien’s staff during his nomination, is again a Jack Adams bridesmaid.
The Flyers turnaround from 37-37-8 82 point club is part systems implemented by AV and part attitude. The personality difference in both the coach himself and the team from last season has been the key to unlocking the fun and talented roster who looked restrained, dull, and inconsistent for several seasons.
He leads the team out of a disappointing rut and handled a variety of injuries. From guys like Scott Laughton and Shayne Gostisbehere ending up on the injured reserve to the unusual in Nolan Patrick’s migraine disorder to the emotionally wrenching cancer diagnosis to Oskar Lindblom, who recently returned to the ice and completed his final treatment in his battle with Ewing Sarcoma. AV has helped hold the team together and keep them working towards the playoffs. He’s also managed the goalies, helping turn the duo of Carter Hart and Brian Elliot into one of the more reliable pair of battery mates in the league. He’s put both in positions to perform their best, making sure Elliot stays ready in his backup position and that Hart isn’t overworked. Despite the impressive numbers a young goalie still needs to be carefully watched and managed and AV with the assist of goaltending coach Kim Dillabaugh have done a masterful job with the netminder of the present and future.
Vigneault has a chance to join the crew of Fred Shero (1973-74), Pat Quinn (1979-80), Mike Keenan (1984-85), and Bill Barber (2000-01) to become the 5th Flyers coach to win the award. The winner will be announced after September 8th when the Conference Finals are expected to be underway.
Congrats to AV, noted martini lover who deserves one with this news. We’ll have one for you tonight. Cheers coach!