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Trotz and easy choice for NHL Coach of the Year

While the Stanley Cup playoffs are in full swing, the National Hockey League has been announcing the finalists for its awards and, as expected, Dauphin’s Barry Trotz is up for the Jack Adams Award for Coach of the Year.
His competition for the award are Tampa Bay Lightning’s John Cooper and Craig Berube of the St. Louis Blues.
Trotz should win this award and the vote should not even be close.
Tampa was expected to have another strong team again this year and, in fact, improved by eight wins and 15 points from the previous year.
The Lightning became just the third team to win 60 games, tying the 1995-96 Detroit Red Wings with 62 victories.
Berube, meanwhile, was named interim head coach, Nov. 19, after the Blues fired Mike Yeo.
Berube led the Blues to a 38-19-6 record in 63 games and a third-place finish in the Central Division.
Trotz led the New York Islanders to a second-place finish in the Metropolitan Division, with a 48-27-7 record.
The 48 wins is 13 more than the Isles had in 2018 and they improved by 23 points, as well.
But the most remarkable turnaround the Isles made was on the defensive side of the puck.
In 2017-18, New York allowed 296 goals against, the most in the NHL. This season, under Trotz’s tutelage, the Islanders allowed exactly 100 fewer goals against, 196.
And this was after the Islanders lost their best player in John Tavares, who left the team last summer to join the Toronto Maple Leafs.
With all due respect to Cooper and Berube, Trotz is the easy choice as Coach of the Year.
•••
The Vladimir Guerrero Jr. era has begun.
Vladdy Jr. made his long-awaited and much-hyped Major League debut with the Toronto Blue Jays, Friday night, helping the Jays to a 4-2 win over the Oakland A’s to start a three-game sweep.
Vladdy’s first hit was a double laced down the right field line. He was pulled for a pinch runner, who was immediately sacrificed over to third base before Brandon Drury hit a two-run shot to win the game for the Jays.
Guerrero ended up going 1-4 in each of his first three games and made all the plays defensively.
But the Jays fans seemed almost desperate to cheer for something or someone. Guerrero may be the only player in MLB history to get a loud ovation just for picking up a foul ball and throwing it into the stands.
The three-game sweep allowed the Jays to improve to .500 at 14-14. I think many fans may be surprised by that start, considering some experts were predicting the Jays would win no more than 70 or 72 games this season.
If the Jays can finish at or close to .500, I would consider that to be a successful year and I think it is possible.
They are getting solid contributions from some unexpected sources and their starting pitching has, for the most part, been solid.
Hopefully, they can keep surprising people.
•••
To say this year’s NHL playoffs have seen some strange results would be an understatement.
None of the division winners advanced past the first round, while the four wildcard entries are all looking to move into the conference finals.
Perhaps the most surprising thing is the top team in each conference was not only kocked out in the first round, but neither series was even close.
Tampa Bay was swept by the upstart Columbus Blue Jackets, while the Calgary Flames lasted just five games before they were unceremoniously knocked out by the Colorado Avalanche.
It’s anyone’s guess as to what happens from here on out. But that is what makes these playoffs so exciting.

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Doug Zywina
REPORTER