Dan Hamhuis figures there’s more to the selection of Barry Trotz as one of three finalists for the Jack Adams Award than just the ability of the Nashville Predators’ coach.
The veteran defenseman can’t help but think it also indicates that the Predators, who finished seventh in the Western Conference in 2009-10, generally are underestimated.
“From the outside looking in, he overachieved for the team he has,” Hamhuis said. “But from the inside, I think we played to our potential.”
Members of the NHL Broadcasters’ Association voted for the Jack Adams Award, which is presented annually to the coach who has “contributed the most to his team’s success.” The top three – Trotz, Dave Tippett of Phoenix and Joe Sacco of Colorado – were named as finalists Wednesday.
It was the first such recognition for Trotz, the only coach in franchise history.
“It’s great for him,” Hamhuis said. “It seems like every year there’s a coach in there who does something a little more special, and he consistently takes a team that has a low payroll and does well.”
Trotz became the sixth coach in league history to coach at least 900 games with one team and joined a group that included the award’s namesake. He guided the Predators to a 14-6-1 record following the Olympic break, which was fourth-best in the league during that time, and into the playoffs for the fifth time in six seasons.
Nashville had at least 100 points for the third time in its history and the first since 2006-07 despite the fact that it was the only Western Conference playoff team that did not score more goals than it allowed during the regular season.
The Predators have had a winning record in each of their last six seasons and have won at least 40 games each of the five seasons since the league lost the 2003-04 campaign to a lockout. Only four other franchises also have accomplished the latter.
The winner will be announced June 23 during the 2010 NHL Awards program in Las Vegas.
If Trotz claims the Adams Award, it will be the second straight year a member of the Predators’ franchise wins one of the league’s top trophies.
Steve Sullivan was named the 2009 winner of the Bill Masterton Trophy.
“I think it’s a very deserving nomination for him,” Sullivan said. “I think that he’s been very consistent in his coaching, and I think that he’s a very well-prepared hockey coach. He might not get the recognition (with) us being here in Nashville and not getting the national media (attention) that other teams get.
“I think maybe that’s why he was passed up (in previous years). Hopefully, this is his time.”