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Handicapping the Jack Adams race

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With the season underway, the experts have weighed in on who they think will win the Jack Adams Award this season. The problem with most of those predictions is that the award rarely goes to the league's best coach but rather to the bench boss whose team defies expectations by the widest margin. That means the award will go to the coach of a team that has a really lucky season, or one that is being seriously underestimated right now.

Technically, the Jack Adams is awarded to the head coach who contributed the most to his team's success in the regular season, as voted by the NHL's Broadcasters Association. In practice, however, it goes to the coach of a marginal team that defied expectations. After all, the great Scotty Bowman won it only twice since the award was first presented in 1973-74, and fellow dynastic coaches Al Arbour and Glen Sather were each honored only once apiece.

There are two key requirements in order for a coach to win the Jack Adams. First, his team must start the season with relatively low expectations, which the team must then exceed by a wide margin. This first condition has already knocked many coaches out of the running before the puck even dropped on opening night. Second, the coach himself has to be seen as having been largely responsible for that success -- not a star player or goalie. These two historical realities call some of the more popular preseason Adams predictions into question right from the start.

Let's look at whom the experts have pinned as the favorites and what each NHL team must accomplish to put its coach in the mix this season, as well as my own early-season pick for the award, based on the qualifications listed above.