by PuckStopsHere on 03/02/12 at 02:48 PM ET
In the early part of this season I picked Barry Trotz of the Nashville Predators as the leading coach of the year candidate. He has done a wonderful job as the only coach in history of the Preds and has kept them in contention when they haven’t had a significant amount of talent. Today they are more talented than they have ever been, but are still exceeding expectations. Would you imagine a team with Martin Erat as top scorer could have the fifth best record in the NHL?
Trotz does not seem to be a candidate in the Adams Trophy race because of the tendency to pick the coach of the most improved team. Nashville is not the most improved team, as they did well last year with Trotz at the helm.
Despite the strong case for Barry Trotz, I think Ken Hitchcock in St Louis has been a better candidate.
I have a lot of respect for Hitchcock as a coach. He has done very well in all of his NHL stops. Nevertheless I have hesitated to support him as coach of the year this year in part because he hasn’t been a coach all season. He took over the Blues coaching job in early November. At that time the Blues were slightly below .500 but in no way out of the race after thirteen games played. Under Hitchcock the Blues have turned things around ad are currently in fourth place in the NHL.
The St Louis Blues are ahead of the Nashville Predators despite a slow start without Hitchcock. They do not have the same frontline talent that the Preds have. There is no Shea Weber or Ryan Suter to lead the St Louis defence. They are better than Alex Pietrangelo and Kevin Shattenkirk, who lead the Blues defence. In goal, Pekka Rinne is a more proven goalie than either of the St Louis options. Their top scorer David Backes is a strong two-way player, but he isn’t outscoring Martin Erat. St Louis does not have the frontline talent of Nashville and yet they have moved ahead of the Preds under Ken Hitchcock.
St Louis has made an incredible turnaround under Ken Hitchcock. He is a talented coach and is a significant reason for the turnaround and that is why he is the front-runner for the coach of the year.
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