A lot of people will tell you that defense and goaltending is what wins Stanley Cups. If you ask me, I think a great coach is more vital than the defense although you have to have defense too.
Coming into this season I had no idea what to expect from the Colorado Avalanche. To be honest, I was mentally prepared for another season in the Western Conference cellar. Apparently Joe Sacco had other plans.
I will admit, I was just as much of a skeptic as anyone else when it was announced that the Avs had promoted from within when there were some high caliber coaches out there looking for a job. If it would have been up to me (it clearly was not), then Peter Laviolette was going to be the next head coach of the Avs. I'm know eating my own words.
What Joe Sacco has been able to do this season with a bunch of kids has been nothing short of amazing. If you would have told me at the beginning of the season that we would be in the hunt for the playoffs and only 6-7 points from winning the division, I would have asked for some of whatever you were smoking.
The fact that he has been able to get the Young Guns to buy into his system is truly Jack Adams worthy in my opinion. Again though, I don't have a say in the matter.
Another coach who is worthy of the Jack Adams is Phoenix bench boss, Dave Tippet. Talk about your ultimate turnaround, this team didn't even know if it was going to be able to call Phoenix home this season. For most teams, they would have used this as an excuse to just mail in the season and collect a ridiculously large paycheck. Dave Tippet wasn't about to let that happen though.
He has leaned heavily on the play of Ilya Bryzgalov, who is probably going to be a finalist for the Vezina. He has also relied on the veteran leadership of Shane Doan to rally the troops and not let them take a single shift off. It's because of this, and maybe a few other reasons, that the Phoenix Coyotes have already punched their ticket to the Stanley Cup Playoffs. I will definitely be watching the first home playoff game in Phoenix. Have you ever seen the great whiteout in Phoenix during home playoff games? It's truly a sight to behold.
There maybe a few others who all have a legitimate shot at winning coach of the year honors. Bruce Boudreau of the Capitals, Dan Bylsma of the Penguins will have his name thrown in there as well. In my humble opinion though it's only a two horse race and it's between Joe Sacco and Dave Tippet. What do you think?