Every year, the Jack Adams Award is given to the head coach that the league believes has contributed most to their team's success. This is kind of a tricky award to give out. Either it goes to someone who won a championship OR has taken a team that nobody expected much out of and turned them into a winner. If you are a good coach on a good team, you usually don't win it because you did everything you were expected to. Although last year's winner, Jim Montgomery, won it for an exceptional year by the Boston Bruins. They ended up flopping in the first round of the playoffs. However, the award is voted on before the playoffs.
The last head coach of the Flyers to win the award was Bill Barber in 2000-01. He resurrected a floundering Flyers team and brought them back to the playoffs. Barber is the fourth Flyers' coach to win, following Fred Shero, Pat Quinn, and Mike Keenan. The closest any coach has come since Barber was Alain Vigneault in 2020 after he piloted the team to a strong finish before the COVID playoffs.
This brings us to the Flyers' current head coach, John Tortorella. He is no stranger to the award. He's a two-time winner, capturing the trophy in 2003-04, followed by him capturing a Stanley Cup with Tampa. He would win the award again in 2016-17 with Columbus. He is the only active coach with two Jack Adams awards.
When this season began, nobody expected much out of the Flyers. Most publications and experts expected them to finish as a bottom-five team. Right now, they are fourth in the Metropolitan Division, just eight points behind the Rangers, and are seventh overall in the Eastern Conference. They've been bouncing around the the middle-to-upper spots in both the division and conference for most of the season. While it is still too early to put the Flyers into the playoffs, they are exceeding expectations. Their rebuild seems to be accelerating far beyond what everyone thought. Tortorella deserves much of the credit for this.
Tortorella is one of those guys the media has a preconceived notion of. If he gets "on a player," it's because he is "a tough coach and is going to ride him." After all, he loves to "verbally attack his players."
And yet, he has coached and lasted in the NHL for 1,500 games. Some players don't get with him, but others will credit him for helping them step up their game. If you look at the overall success of the Flyers this year, his fingerprints are all over the team. They are playing fundamentally better than last year.
What would it take for Tortorella to win the Jack Adams Award this season? First, the Flyers will need to make the playoffs. Secondly, the team will have to continue the success they have had all year and be able to fend off competitors like Carolina, Pittsburgh and the Islanders. Finally, it will depend on the success of other teams. Right now, it would appear that Torts' biggest competition would be Vancouver's Rick Tocchet, who also has done a lot to improve that team's fortunes in a short time.
Even if Tortorella doesn't win the Jack Adams Award, this has been a successful year. The Flyers are no longer a joke. He has brought them back to respectability. Flyers hockey is back in town and he is a big part of that.