NEW YORK — Calgary Flames head coach Darryl Sutter is among the three finalists for the Jack Adams Award, presented annually to the National Hockey League's coach of the year.
Andrew Brunette of the Florida Panthers and Gerard Gallant of the New York Rangers are the other two finalists.
Sutter started his second stint behind the Flames bench on March 4, 2021, as a mid-season replacement for the fired Geoff Ward.
After the Flames missed the playoffs in 2020-21, the 63-year-old from Viking, Alta., oversaw the biggest season-over-season improvement by any team in the NHL. The Flames captured the Pacific Division title and posted the NHL's sixth-best record (50-21-11) in 2021-22.
After winning Stanley Cups with the Los Angeles Kings in 2012 and 2014, Sutter was an adviser to the Anaheim Ducks coaching staff and appeared headed toward retiring as an NHL coach when he took the job with the Flames.
"The reason I came back was because I watched the teams lots, the (Edmonton) Oilers and Calgary lots," Sutter said Thursday in Calgary.
"I thought the Flames were falling behind in terms of what was going on in the division, going on in the league. That was the biggest reason that I came back."
"I've been fortunate to be in the places I've been and with the owners and the type of teams that you'd like to see have success. You get to a point where you can, not pick and choose, but you don't have to go through a process to take that position."
Sutter is a finalist for the second time in his career. He was nominated in 2003-04 when he also coached the Flames.
Brunette led the Panthers (58-18-6) to the first Presidents' Trophy in franchise history as the NHL's top regular-season team.
Gallant became just the second head coach in franchise history to win 50-plus games in his first season, guiding the Rangers (52-24-6) to their best record since capturing the Presidents' Trophy in 2014-15.
The winners of the 2022 NHL Awards will be revealed sometime during the conference finals and Stanley Cup final.
Members of the NHL broadcasters’ association submit ballots for the award at the end of the regulation season with the top three vote-earners named finalists.
"If the coaches voted on the best coaches each year, you'd see quite a bit different list the last 15 years," Sutter said.
"I don't need that on my resume. Some guys do. I'd rather see young guys win it, (or) older guys who got a raw deal somewhere. A guy like Gerard got a raw deal in Florida, got a raw deal in Vegas. I know who I'd vote for."
The Golden Knights fired Gallant in January, 2020. He'd led the team to the playoffs in each of its first two years, including the Stanley Cup final in its expansion year in 2017-18.
The Florida Panthers sacked him after a road game against the Carolina Hurricanes in November, 2016, and Gallant made his own way home.
- With files from Donna Spencer in Calgary
This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 18, 2022.
The Canadian Press