With the 2020 NHL All-Star Game on Saturday, let’s look at three candidates for this season’s Jack Adams Award.
The 2019-20 campaign hasn’t been a friendly year for NHL coaches. Seven head coaches have been fired entering the All-Star break, and there’s a chance a handful of other bench bosses are bound for a position on the hot seat.
While a noteworthy number of coaches were axed this year, let’s look at three head coaches that could earn the Jack Adams Award for the NHL’s 2019-20 coach of the year at the midway point of the season.
3. Ralph Krueger, Buffalo Sabres
A storied franchise in the Buffalo Sabres broke headlines over the offseason when they hired Ralph Krueger as the team’s fourth head coach since 2014-15.
That angle though?! 😯
— Buffalo Sabres (@BuffaloSabres) October 10, 2019
Kreuger, 60, hadn’t served behind an NHL bench since 2012-13 when he took over as head coach for the Edmonton Oilers for a mere 48 games. The Steinbach, Manitoba native then spent time as Chairman of Southampton Football Club in England’s Premier League.
His background and perspective have clearly impacted the Sabres for the better. While Buffalo entered the All-Star break out of the playoff picture — with a 22-20-7 record and 10 points out of the last wild card — there’s still hope this team is finally headed in the right direction in large part thanks to Kreuger.
The players couldn’t speak more highly about the communication guru, and it’s arguably no coincidence that forward Jack Eichel is having a breakout season. No, the Sabres’ captain won’t break Pat Lafontaine’s record for most points in a season with 148, but at this rate, he’ll finish 2019-20 with over 100 points and for the first time in his NHL career.
Buffalo hasn’t been this bright since the NFL’s Bills clinched a playoff berth back in 2017-18. Keep in mind the Sabres haven’t advanced past the first round of the playoffs since 2006-07, so a potential playoff appearance alone bodes well for Krueger this season.