May 1, 2012

Rangers coach Tortorella named Jack Adams finalist

By Jesse Connolly

On Monday, the NHL named Rangers coach John Tortorella (Melrose, Mass.) as one of the three finalist for the Jack Adams Award, which is annually given to the top coach in the league.

Rounding out the list of three finalists were Ken Hitchcock and Paul MacLean. Hitchcock took over after Davis Payne was fired in St. Louis and went a superb 43-15-11. It is his fourth nomination. 

John Tortorella (Melrose, Mass.) and the Rangers beat the Flyers, 3-2, in the Winter Classic. (Getty Images)

MacLean came over to Ottawa after six seasons as an assistant in Detroit. The Senators were unanimously pegged to finish near the bottom of the standings in the conference. MacLean guided them to a 41-31-10 record, good for eighth place in the conference.

Tortorella won the award back in 2004 while behind the bench for the Tampa Bay Lightning, who went on to win the Stanley Cup that season. He finished second in the voting the year prior for the award, which is voted upon by the NHL Broadcasters Association. 

Tortorella, now in his fourth season in New York since taking over for Tom Renney during the 2008-09 campaign, led the Rangers to a first-place finish in the Eastern Conference during the regular season, going 51-24-7 -- the club's best record since their Cup-winning season back in 1993-94. 

“I’m happy for him,” goalie Henrik Lundqvist -- a finalist for the Hart and Vezina trophies -- told the New York Post. “He’s done a great job for us. He’s such passionate coach and he puts in a lot of work to get us going. He’s been a good fit. This year, especially, guys knew what to expect going in. It’s been fun playing under Torts.”

If Tortorella wins, he'd become just the second of the last 13 recipients to not be a first-time winner. Since 1998-99 when Ottawa's Jacques Martin earned the honor, only Jacques Lemaire (2002-03, Minnesota) -- named the league's top coach in 1993-94 with the Devils -- has been a multi-time winner of the Jack Adams Trophy. 

Jesse Connolly can be reached at jconnolly@hockeyjournal.com. Follow him on Twitter at @JesseNEHJ.