The Pittsburgh Penguins should be used to award snubs. The number of nominations or trophies earned by Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, and Kris Letang but never delivered are not a small number. If anyone can explain how Sidney Crosby has just two Hart Trophies, I’m all ears.
On Friday, voters unleashed the latest and one of the most egregious snubs. The voters failed to nominate Pittsburgh Penguins head coach Mike Sullivan for the Jack Adams Coach of the Year award.
The beleaguered Penguins won the division with five of their top-nine forwards missing significant time, a blue line that momentarily featured rookie P-O Joseph and John Marino as the top pair, and a large roster turnover meshed together with only a week-long training camp.
The Penguins also became the second-highest scoring team in the league despite a decimated lineup and had the third-highest goal differential.
Did we mention the Penguins won the stacked East Division, not a defensively challenged or shallow division?
On Friday, the National Hockey League Broadcasters Association announced their three nominees for the Adams award. Deserving in their own rights: Rod Brind’Amour (Carolina), Dean Evason (Minnesota), and Joel Quenneville (Florida).
The talented Carolina Hurricanes won the Central Division, one point ahead of the surprising Florida Panthers, who finally put their talent to good use after a few years of stagnant regular seasons.
Despite most pundits predicting they would miss the playoffs, Minnesota was also a surprise team and finished third in the West division.
Edit: Only Rod Brind’Amour coached a team that escaped Round One, but Tampa Bay quickly dismissed Carolina in Round Two.
But we’ll stand by calling out the snub. Sullivan has won a pair of Stanley Cups and guided teams crushed by injuries to maintain the Penguins’ 15 consecutive playoff appearances. The first and only Penguins coach to win the Adams award was Dan Bylsma in 2010-11.
Not even Badger Bob Johnson nor Scotty Bowman won the award while coaching the Penguins.
This season, the Penguins managed to win the division with a cavalcade of minor league players or others playing above their pay grade. Add Frederick Gaudreau, Cody Ceci, and Mike Matheson as a few players who had career years to fill the Penguins’ needs.
Four of the last six Adams winners are no longer with the team they coached when they won the award, including Barry Trotz who won the award as coach of the Washington Capitals, John Tortorella of the Columbus Blue Jackets, and Gerard Gallant of the Vegas Golden Knights.