St. Louis head coach Ken Hitchcock, along with fellow bench bosses Paul MacLean of Ottawa and John Tortorella from the New York Rangers, have been named finalists for the Jack Adams Award as the top coach in the NHL.
Hitchcock took over for Davis Payne on November 6 and turned a team languishing with a 6-7-0 record into a Presidents' Trophy contender. The Blues finished the year tied for second in the league with 109 points (49-22-11) and wrested the Central Division away from the rival Red Wings for the first time since 2000.
For the 60-year-old native of Edmonton, it is his fourth career Adams nod. He finished second in 1997, and third in both 1998 and '99, all with the Dallas Stars.
MacLean, an 11-year NHL player who starred primarily for the original Winnipeg Jets, took an Ottawa club which finished 13th in the Eastern Conference last season, and molded it into one that challenged for the Northeast Division title.
The Senators finished second behind the Bruins, going 41-31-10 for 92 points. The 18-point boost ranked fifth-most in the NHL and was second-most for a rookie coach. MacLean is the first Ottawa head coach to finish in the top three since Jacques Martin in 2003.
Tortorella, the 2004 Jack Adams winner with the Tampa Bay Lightning, led the Blueshirts to their best record (51-24-7) since New York's Stanley Cup-winning campaign of 1993-94, the Atlantic Division crown, and a top seed in the Eastern Conference.
A native of Massachusetts, Tortorella is bidding to become the first Rangers head coach to win the honor, first awarded in 1974. Tom Renney was their last finalist, back in 2006.
The winner will be announced during the 2012 NHL Awards program on June 20 in Las Vegas.