5 most surprising Jack Adams Award voting results as Rick Tocchet wins feat. Bob Murdoch

NHL: Calgary Flames at Vancouver Canucks
5 most surprising Jack Adams Award voting results as Rick Tocchet wins feat. Bob Murdoch

The Jack Adams Award is presented each season to the league's top coach. Winners of the award don’t necessarily coach the team with the best record, but they exemplify what good coaching can do for a team’s success. This year’s winner, Rick Tocchet, led a surprising turnaround that saw the Vancouver Canucks go from 6th place in the Pacific Division in 2022-2023 to winning it in 2023-2024 season.

Tocchet's commanding performance secured him the award by a big margin, nabbing 483 total points. Andrew Brunette of the Nashville Predators was the runner-up with 145 total points.

While voters typically bestow the Jack Adams Award to the most deserving coach, there have been some occasions in which surprising choices have won the honor. Let’s take a look at the five most surprising Jack Adams Award voting results.

5 most surprising Jack Adams Award voting results

#1: 1981 Red Berenson, St. Louis Blues

Former NHL athlete Gordon “Red” Berenson played for the Montreal Canadiens during the ’60s and ‘70s before transitioning into a successful coaching career, predominantly in the NCAA. He would win multiple NCAA National Championships, along with other accolades.

In 1981, Berenson led the St. Louis Blues to the Smythe Division crown. The club registered a 45-18-17 record for 107 points. However, the Blues were bounced in the quarterfinals that season. Berenson earned the Jack Adams Award that season.

However, Berenson’s stint in St. Louis was short-lived. He was fired during the 1981-1982 season, as the Blues finished third in the Norris Division.

#2: 1983 Orval Tessier. Chicago Blackhawks

Orval Tessier had a total of 59 NHL games under his belt and played in multiple minor league teams before becoming a coach. He was successful in the QMJHL, winning numerous championships in the 1970s.

By the early 1980s, the Chicago Blackhawks hired Tessier to lead the club. In his first season, the Blackhawks went 47-23-10 for 104 points and first place in the Norris Division. The Blackhawks made it all the way to the Conference Finals, where the Edmonton Oilers swept the team.

Tessier earned the Jack Adams for his results. However, Chicago's performances waned in the subsequent season as they slipped to fourth in the Norris Division and were eliminated in the first round of the playoffs. Despite finishing second in the Norris the following season, Tessier was relieved of his duties by the Blackhawks.

#3: 1990 Bob Murdoch, Winnipeg Jets

The most surprising name on this list is Bob Murdoch. In the 1989-1990 season, Murdoch led the Jets to a 37-32-11 record, earning 85 points in the Smythe Division. The Jets finished third and were eliminated in the first round by Edmonton.

However, voters felt compelled to vote for Murdoch, giving him the Jack Adams for that season. Murdoch would be fired at the end of the following season as the Jets missed the playoffs.

#4: 1995 Marc Crawford, Quebec Nordiques

In their final season, the Quebec Nordiques compiled a 30-13-5 record for first place in the Northeast Division. However, the Nordiques were eliminated in the first round.

Crawford’s Jack Adams win was a surprising one as it was his first year as a coach in the NHL. The Nordiques would become the Colorado Avalanche the following season. With legends such as Joe Sakic and Patrick Roy, the Avalanche would win the franchise’s first Stanley Cup.

Crawford was fired following the 1997-19998 season. Nevertheless, he had a lengthy coaching career, unable to replicate another Jack Adams-type season.

#5: 1997 Ted Nolan, Buffalo Sabres

Ted Nolan played in various teams and leagues before landing a full-time head coaching job with the Buffalo Sabres in 1995. During his first season, the Sabres finished 5th in the Northeast Division.

The following year, the team turned things around, finishing first with a 40-30-12 mark for 92 points. The Sabres lost in the second round to the Philadelphia Flyers.

Nolan earned the Jack Adams despite being fired by the Sabres. He would return for two more seasons with the team from 2013 to 2015. The club finished 8th in the Atlantic division both years.

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