By Shelly Anderson, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Thursday, June 23, 2011
LAS VEGAS -- A lot of things named raced through Dan Bylsma's mind Wednesday night as he headed for the stage at the Pearl Theater inside the Palms Casino and Resort.
The Penguins coach thought about the people he needed to thank upon winning the Jack Adams Award as the NHL's best coach. He thought about the coaches who had won the award previously. He thought about his wife, Mary Beth, and 12-year-old son, Bryan. And he thought about Donny Osmond.
"I didn't picture Donny Osmond being the guy who announces it," Bylsma said of his presenter at the annual NHL awards show. "Once I found it out was Donny, I had a couple jokes I thought about saying, but 45 seconds wasn't even enough to thank the media -- and that would have been hard enough for a coach to do, to thank the media."
Bylsma, 40, beat out fellow finalists Alain Vigneault, who led Vancouver to the best record in the regular season, and Barry Trotz, who guided Nashville to its sixth playoff berth in the past seven seasons.
The Jack Adams is determined in voting by NHL broadcasters, and there is little doubt that they were swayed by the performance of the Penguins -- 49 wins, 106 points, both second most in club history -- despite the extended absences of centers Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Jordan Staal. Each missed about half the season, with Crosby and Malkin out the second half.
The stars were not the only ones hurt. The team lost 350 man-games to injuries in 2010-11, and, at one point, the top seven scorers from minor league affiliate Wilkes-Barre/Scranton were on the NHL roster.
"I was very happy for him and his family," said Penguins general manager Ray Shero, whose father, Fred, was the first recipient of the Jack Adams in 1974. "With Crosby and Malkin injured, people see what kind of coach Dan is. We're proud to have Dan as our coach. He's very deserving."
Bylsma deflected credit for his coaching job and the award to his players and their adherence to the system Bylsma has preached -- with a tweak on defense devised last summer -- since he was promoted from Wilkes-Barre in February 2009.
The Penguins won the Stanley Cup with that system, so Bylsma staunchly stuck with it rather than make changes to compensate for his injured stars.
"I'd like to tell you I did something marvelous to keep it going, but that's not the case," Bylsma said. "In looking back, I really think the best thing we've done and continue to do is, our players have a clear understanding of how we're going to have success as a team and how we're going to play.
"I felt sheepish, thinking, 'I'm really not doing that much.' I think all that was done long before the injuries. The players did an amazing job to keep going through the injuries and some of the down times. They kept expecting to win, and they did."
Bylsma also gave credit to the HBO special series, "24/7," which aired in midseason and showed behind-the-scenes footage of the Penguins and Washington Capitals.
"Even within the Pittsburgh community, people thought they had a picture of Dan Bylsma in their brain," he said. "They see about 5 percent of who you are. I've often had to tell people that's not really me if you think I'm that serious guy behind the bench who doesn't show a lot of emotion. I'm a terribly emotional person.
"I think with 24/7, to see a little bit of behind the scenes, to see a little bit more of the coach that I am, I think that opened some eyes to maybe a different style than they thought I was and the rapport that we have with our players. I think it was advantageous for me."
The other winners:
• Boston's Tim Thomas pulled off an impressive trifecta. He won the Vezina Trophy as the top goaltender after winning the Stanley Cup and the Conn Smythe as playoff MVP.
• Anaheim's Corey Perry, who led the NHL with 50 goals, won the Hart Trophy as MVP. The other MVP award, the Ted Lindsay, voted on by NHL players, went to Vancouver's Daniel Sedin, the league's scoring champion.
• Detroit's Nicklas Lidstrom won his seventh Norris Trophy as top defenseman.
• Boston's Zdeno Chara missed out on the Norris but received the Mark Messier Leadership Award.
• Vancouver's Ryan Kesler won the Selke Trophy for top defensive forward, breaking the streak of three in a row by Detroit's Pavel Datsyuk.
• At 18, Jeff Skinner was the youngest player in the league, and the Carolina center won the Calder Trophy as rookie of the year.
• Also from Vancouver, Mike Gillis was named general manager of the year.
• Tampa Bay's Martin St. Louis won the Lady Byng Trophy for sportsmanship for the second year in a row.
• Philadelphia's Ian Laperriere, who has struggled through persistent concussion symptoms, won the Masterton Trophy for sportsmanship and perseverance.
• Doug Weight, recently retired from the New York Islanders, won the King Clancy Trophy for Leadership.
• Los Angeles' Dustin Brown won the NHL Foundation award for charity and community work.