Trophy Tracker: Jack Adams |

To mark the three-quarters point in the season, is running its fourth installment of the Trophy Tracker series this week. Today, we look at the race for the Jack Adams Award, given annually to the top coach in the NHL as selected in a vote by the NHL Broadcasters’ Association.

Darryl Sutter wasted no time setting a new tone for the Calgary Flames.

The 63-year-old was hired March 4, 2021, for a second stint as Calgary coach after Geoff Ward was fired. At the time, the Flames were 11-11-2 and fifth in the seven-team Scotia North Division. Sutter wasn’t able to join the Flames until March 11 because of the NHL COVID-19 protocol, so he held meetings virtually.

The messages sent during those meetings are still reverberating one year later.

“He’s had everybody stay at that level ever since.” Flames general manager Brad Treliving told the Calgary Sun on March 4.

Sutter was voted the favorite to win the Jack Adams Award this season by a panel of 15 writers and editors with the Flames (36-15-7) leading the Pacific Division and second in the Western Conference. He received 55 points (seven first-place votes), ahead of Gerard Gallant of the New York Rangers had 39 points (two first-place votes), and Andrew Brunette of the Florida Panthers received 37 points (two first-place votes).

Sutter had a similar impact when he replaced Terry Murray as coach of the Los Angeles Kings. When he took over Dec. 20, 2011, the Kings were 15-14-4, but Sutter helped them finish the regular season 25-13-11 before going 16-4 during the Stanley Cup Playoffs and winning the Stanley Cup for the first time since joining the NHL in 1967-68.

Since Jan. 13, Calgary is 19-5-1, 14-2-1 at Scotiabank Saddledome, and 10-2-1 since forward Tyler Toffoli was acquired in a trade with the Montreal Canadiens on Feb. 14. Toffoli won the Cup playing for Sutter with the Kings in 2014, and the way the Flames are playing this season, they are among the favorites to win it for the first time since 1989.

“Every day has to be about getting better,” Sutter said before a 5-1 win at the Minnesota Wild on March 1. “It’s very simple. If you’re trying to make the playoffs, I don’t think you can have much of a downtime.”

goalies Jacob Markstrom leads the NHL with nine shutouts, one behind Miikka Kiprusoff’s Calgary/Atlanta Flames record set in 2005-06. Johnny Gaudreauwho leads the Flames with 78 points (26 goals, 52 assists), is on pace to score 100 points for the first time in the NHL. Elijah Lindholm is a first-time 30-goal scorer and Andrew Mangiapane is one away from doing the same.

The Flames are in the top five in the NHL in goals-against per game (second, 2.41) and the penalty kill (third, 85.5 percent), and are 29-0-2 when leading after two periods.

“I think it’s changed dramatically,” Flames defenseman Christopher Tanev said March 3. “Every day is a new day, every day is a new day to win, and every day is a new day to get better. I think Darryl reinforces everything that we need to be a good team and then how we need to play to be a good team. He does that well and we need to execute and follow the game plan.”

Once Sutter returned to Calgary, where he was Flames coach from 2002-06 — guiding them to Game 7 of the 2004 Stanley Cup Final — and general manager from 2003-10, the message was structure and accountability. Before the Flames defeated the Colorado Avalanche 4-3 in overtime March 5, Sportsnet cameras caught an angry Gaudreau on the bench during a 4-on-4 defensive-zone face-off. The forward returned for the next face-off in the neutral zone.

“He was just mad, like, haven’t I come from that I could play defense?” Flames analyst Cassie Campbell-Pascall told “The Chirp with Daren Millard” podcast. “But that’s what Darryl Sutter does. Those are the buttons that I think Darryl Sutter has done a good job pushing this year.”

Voting totals (points awarded on a 5-4-3-2-1- basis): Darryl Sutter, Calgary Flames, 55 points (seven first-place votes); Gerard Gallant, New York Rangers, 39 (two); Andrew Brunette, Florida Panthers, 29 (two); Mike Sullivan, Pittsburgh Penguins, 26 (one); Rod Brind’Amour, Carolina Hurricanes, 24 (one); Todd McLellan, Los Angeles Kings, 16; Jared Bednar, Colorado Avalanche, 12 (one); Jon Cooper, Tampa Bay Lightning, 9; John Hynes, Nashville Predators, 6 (1); Dean Evason, Minnesota Wild, 5; Craig Berube, St. Louis Blues, 3; Bruce Boudreau, Vancouver Canucks, 1


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