Jack Adams coaches

Are Jack Adams winners really good coaches, are they just in the right place at the right time, or is it perhaps a combination of good and lucky? I assert that coaches win the JA usually because they’re genuinely good. Coaches generally win the Jack Adams when their teams perform extremely well (either relative to other teams, or relative to their history over the previous few seasons). These teams are usually not flashes in the pan; they tend to continue to perform well for at least a season or two afterwards as well.
The original thread I started is here. I’m not (yet?) putting anything new into this entry; I’m mostly making it in case hfboards goes away, and also as a testament to my cleverness (and to flesh out this site). I posted it to hfboards on the 25th of April, 2004.


igor started it off by saying:

In general I tend to think that coaches get a bit too much credit when a team does well, and a bit too much blame when it all goes wrong. I’d wager that the vast majority of Jack Adams winners coached teams that:
a.) Garnered more points in the standings than their goal differential indicated {i.e. had some puck-luck that year}
b.) Had a goaltender that had a very good year save%-wise.
c.) Coached a team that, quite predictably, performed worse the next season.

I went through the last 4 Jack Adams winners (and I’ll do the rest as well), and collected team win percentages for that year (+/- 1) and save percentages (+/- 1). I went back to 1987, because around then goalie data started getting spotty. (I used hockeydb for everything. It rocks. Anybody who wonders where I get stats for anything, that’s likely it.) I would have gone back to 1986, but that was the year Sather won with the Oilers and we can say with a fair bit of confidence that his was a reward for the continued domination of his teams: 1986 was the middle of the 4 Cups in 5 years.

Yr-1 Win Year Yr+1 Notes
Year Winner Team Yr Win% SV% GD Win% SV% GD Win% SV% GD
2003 Lemaire MIN 3 .390 .897 -43 .573 .924 20 .488 .925 5
2002 Francis PHO 2 .530 .915 2 .543 .912 18 .445 .909 -26
2001 Barber PHI 1 .622 .911 58 .591 .907 33 .573 .913 42
2000 Quenneville STL 3 .530 .890 28 .689 .910 83 .598 .903 54
1999 Martin OTT 3 .506 .906 -7 .628 .915 60 .567 .900 34
1998 Burns BOS 1 .372 .878 -66 .555 .913 27 .555 .920 33 Dafoe
1997 Nolan BUF 2 .445 .912 -15 .561 .926 29 .543 .928 24
1996 Bowman DET 3 .729 .902 63 .799 .909 144 .573 .906 56
1995 Crawford QUE 1 .452 .890 -15 .677 .909 51 .634 .900 86
1994 Lemaire NJD 1 .518 .881 9 .631 .910 86 .542 .901 15 Martin Brodeur
1993 Burns TOR 1 .419 .884 -60 .589 .903 47 .583 .905 37 Felix Potvin
1992 Quinn VAN 1 .406 .870 -72 .600 .892 35 .601 .887 68 Kirk MacLean
1991 Sutter STL 3 .519 .883 16 .656 .894 60 .519 .903 13 Curtis Joseph
1990 Murdoch WPG 1 .400 .865 -55 .531 .882 8 .394 .887 -28
1989 Burns MTL 1 .644 .897 60 .719 .899 97 .581 .899 54 Roy - off year
1988 Demers DET 2 .487 .883 -14 .581 .892 53 .500 .876 -3 Hanlon
1987 Demers DET 1 .250 ???? -149 .487 .883 -14 .xxx .xxx xxx small spikes

(Aside: grr, that looks like ass. I had to hack around a bit to make it display properly on hfboards; I expect I’ll have to hack around and make it work here. Maybe I can use tables. It could also be because the @#$%! entry field doesn’t use a monospace font…)
Years of Experience
Sather’s the only coach with more than 3 years with his team when he won it. The Oilers had dominated for several years previous though, and we can say that the award was more to recognise continued success rather than a turnaround season. When we toss him out, we find that 9 coaches were first year, 3 were second, and 5 were third year.
Winning Records
7 teams had losing records the previous year. Every single team save the 1987 Demers team had a winning record for their JA winner. Only 3 teams had losing records again the year afterwards.
Team Save Percentage
13 teams improved in their winning years from the previous year. 8 dropped in the next year.
Team Goal Differential
Every single team, save the 2001 Flyers, improved their GD from the year previous to the wins. Some of the teams had huge improvements: the 1987 Red Wings, the 1992 Canucks, the 1993 Maple Leafs, and the 1998 Bruins, for instance. At least 5 of those teams rode hot goalies, as we can see from the Notes column. Oddly enough, Roy actually had an off-year in 1989. The Red Wings appear to have used Glen Hanlon as their starting goalie (I’m going by minutes played) most of the way from at least 85-86 to 88-89, and Hanlon apparently blew hot and cold – his sv% spiked up and down those years. Unsurprisingly, teams that used more than two goalies tended to do very poorly. The best teams either had one outstanding goalie and rode him like crazy (Hasek for the Sabres) or a very good starter and a good backup (the 91 Blues had Joseph and Fuhr).
Now, igor also predicted that most teams would return to their normal GD the year after winning. Only 7 did what could be described as a tanking. 4 actually got better, and the remaining 6 either did not drop much, or dropped but still had good GDs.
I didn’t look at each team’s relative placing in the standings – perhaps I’ll do that in another followup – but I don’t think that we can say that Jack Adams coaches were necessarily “lucky”.
Of course, in several cases, the teams were genuinely good to begin with, or were about to become so – Crawford’s Nordiques, for instance (and they only got better once they moved to Colorado and acquired Roy), or Sather’s Oilers, or Quinn’s Canucks. It’s really only been the last couple of years that we’ve seen a “trend” (if you can call 2 years such) of a bad team playing sufficiently above its mark to get a JA award for its coach, and then the team lapsed back into mediocrity.