NEW YORK (AP) — Rookie Joe Sacco, who led the Colorado Avalanche on a surprising run to the playoffs, along with Phoenix's Dave Tippett and Barry Trotz of the Nashville Predators, were selected as finalists Wednesday for the Jack Adams Award as NHL coach of the year.
Sacco went 43-30-9 in his first year behind the bench and helped the Avalanche reach the postseason one year after they finished last in the Western Conference. Since the current playoff format was established for the 2000-01 season, the Avalanche are the first to go from the worst in the West to the playoffs.
Tippett had an impressive run, too, after taking over the Coyotes less than a week before the regular season. Despite organizational turmoil after the team went into bankruptcy, Tippett led the club to the playoffs for the first time since 2002.
Phoenix (50-27-5) set franchise records for wins and points in a season, along with home wins (29). The Coyotes' 28-point increase over last season was the highest in the league — two points better than Colorado's jump.
Nashville (47-29-6) reached the playoffs for the fifth time in six seasons under Trotz, the only coach in team history. The Predators went 14-6-1 after the Olympic break, the fourth-best mark in the NHL. Trotz became the sixth coach to reach 900 games with one team — joining Adams, who did it with Detroit.
All three of this year's finalists were eliminated in the first round of the playoffs. Voting was completed at the end of the regular season.
The Jack Adams Award is voted on by members of the NHL Broadcasters' Association. The winner will be announced as part of the league's awards ceremony on June 23 in Las Vegas.