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Rick Tocchet just won the Jack Adams Award by a nearly unprecedented margin

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Photo credit:© Bob Frid-USA TODAY Sports
Stephan Roget
19 days ago
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For some strange reason, the NHL schedules an official NHL Awards Night (June 26 this year) and then spends the month prior announcing the winners of most of the awards ahead of time.
It’s a questionable strategy toward putting on a night of entertainment, to be sure, but it has worked out on this particular occasion so as to deliver fans of the Vancouver Canucks some good news right when they need it most.
The NHL announced on Wednesday night that Rick Tocchet had won the Jack Adams Award as the league’s top coach of the year, having been selected by the NHL Broadcasters’ Association.
Tocchet is not the first Canucks coach to win the award. He joins Pat Quinn (1991/92) and Alain Vigneault (2006/07) in that regard. But while his win isn’t unprecedented on the surface, it sure looks like it might be when it comes to the actual margin of victory.
Tocchet achieved 483 points in the Jack Adams voting, clearing Andrew Brunette’s second place 145-point finish by a whopping 338 points.
Tocchet appeared on 109 of 114 ballots submitted. In receiving 82 first place votes, he more than doubled the cumulative first place votes of everyone else (32).
You read the headline. You know where we’re going with this. You see a margin of victory that wide, and you start to wonder whether it’s the largest margin of victory ever for this award.
Well, we’ve done the research, and the answer is…no! But it does seem likely to be the second-largest margin of victory ever. At least as far as we can tell.
As it turns out, public voting records for the Jack Adams don’t go back very far, and even what is available can be difficult to track down with search engines like Google dying a slow death of effectiveness. But suffice it to say that, as far back as we can find, no one has ever won the Jack Adams in as much of a landslide as Tocchet just did, and certainly not anyone in the modern era.
We can get back at least as far as a decade ago, when Patrick Roy won the 2013/14 Jack Adams ahead of Mike Babcock by a 236-point margin. Which isn’t anyone near Tocchet’s margin, but as we’ll come to see, still stands as a dominant victory.
Next year, in 2014/15, former Vancouver public enemy Bob Hartley won by just 116 over (New York’s) Vigneault.
The 2015/16 campaign saw Barry Trotz pick up 344 votes, but only clear Gerard Gallant by 141.
In 2016/17, it was another old friend, John Tortorella of the Columbus Blue Jackets winning by a scant 85-point margin over Babcock.
Gallant got his day in the sun, and in a big way, with the 2017/18 season and the birth of the Vegas Golden Knights. Gallant earned 525 points, surpassing both Tocchet’s total and his margin of victory, beating out Bruce Cassidy by 372 points.
But it’s worth noting what an absolutely legendary run Gallant had that year. He led an expansion team not just to the playoffs, but to the top of the Pacific Division. (And then on to the Stanley Cup Finals, but that doesn’t count toward Jack Adams voting.)
And, still, he only eclipsed Tocchet’s win-margin by 34 points. These are still incredibly impressive waters to swim in.
As we continue the year-by-year tour, few others come anywhere close.
Trotz won again in 2018/19 by 80 points over Jon Cooper.
Cassidy won in 2019/20 by 36 points over Vigneault, now in Philadelphia.
Rod Brind’Amour took home the Jack Adams in 2020/21 with a 198-vote spread over Dean Evason.
Darryl Sutter won it in 2021/22, beating Brunette by 104 points.
Then, last year, Jim Montgomery won it, and Gallant aside, he’s the only other coach to come anywhere close to Tocchet’s landslide. For 2022/23, Montgomery earned 404 points, beating out Lind Ruff by 277.
It’s definitely worth mentioning here that Montgomery’s Bruins set the NHL record for the greatest regular season performance of all time.
Obviously, our data is incomplete. The Jack Adams was first awarded in the 1973/74 season, so we’re really only working with 10/50 years worth of votes. And the number of voters has ballooned over the years, too. So, the further back we go, we might find coaches who captured an equal percentage of votes as the likes of Gallant, Tocchet, and Montgomery, but we won’t find anyone who earned as many raw votes.
And, really, that’s all we need to make our point here.
In the modern era, at least, Tocchet’s only competition in Jack Adams dominance are the coaches of the greatest expansion team performance ever, and the greatest regular season performance, period, ever.
The Canucks didn’t set any records this year. They didn’t win the Presidents’ Trophy. They only won the Pacific Division by five points.
And, still, the voters recognized just how much Tocchet had transformed the Canucks, and how much credit he singlehandedly deserved for that transformation.
How much credit?
As much as was given to the other greatest coaching performances of all-time.
An unprecedented victory? Not quite. But still impressive in its precedents all the same.
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