In his first year with the Flyers, Alain Vigneault has been named a finalist for the Jack Adams Award, presented to the NHL’s coach of the year.
Vigneault, 59, was selected as a nominee Wednesday, along with Boston’s Bruce Cassidy, and Columbus’ John Tortorella.
The winner will be announced at a still-to-be-determined date during the conference finals in Edmonton.
Vigneault praised his coaching staff and his players for getting him nominated for the fifth time (with four teams) in his career, calling it “extra special” because the Flyers overcame a slow start and because of how the team rallied around teammate Oskar Lindblom.
After starting the season Oct. 4 in the Czech Republic and quickly making a grueling West Coast trip, the Flyers regrouped and had the league’s second-best record from Nov. 1 until the end of the year.
Vigneault got emotional when he talked about how the Flyers responded after the devastating December news that Lindblom was battling a rare type of bone cancer.
“I’m so proud of this group and everybody associated with it,” Vigneault said after Day 3 of Training Camp II in Voorhees, where the two sessions had a faster pace than the first two days.
“That was a very challenging time for our group and we responded by doing our jobs, staying focused. ... Considering what could have happened, this is extra special. Oskar is healthy now, our team did well, so this is very special for me.”
The Flyers finished the pandemic-shortened season with a 41-21-7 record, one point behind first-place Washington in the Metropolitan Division. They were on pace to accumulate 106 points in 82 games, which would have been 24 more points than last season.
No NHL team made a bigger improvement than the Flyers this season. The Flyers’ 106-point pace would have been their second-highest total in the last 33 seasons, topped only by their 107 points in 2002-03 during that span.
Defenseman Justin Braun said Vigneault “came in with a system. It took a while for guys to get used to that, but I think everybody bought in. You saw at the end of the year how we were humming along. He set the standard for what he expects every night.”
Vigneault was named coach of the year after the 2006-07 season with Vancouver. The Canucks collected 105 points, finished first in the Northwest Division, and lost in the second round of the playoffs.
The NHL’s coach-of-the-year award is based on the regular season.
Bill Barber was the last Flyers coach to win the Jack Adams Award; he was honored after the 2000-01 season. Fred Shero (1973-74), Pat Quinn (1979-80), and Mike Keenan (1984-85) were the other Flyers coaches who won the Jack Adams Award.
The Flyers’ .645 points percentage this season was their third-best in the last 30 years.
Cassidy directed Boston to the most points (100) and the highest points percentage (.714) in the NHL. The Bruins’ power play (second, 25.2%) and penalty kill (third, 84.3%) were among the best in the NHL.
Tortorella led Columbus, a team that lost several quality free agents before the season and overcame numerous injuries during the campaign, to a 33-22-15 record.
The Flyers’ lone exhibition game before the start of the round-robin tournament will be held at 4 p.m. July 28 against Pittsburgh in Toronto. It will be televised by NBC Sports Philadelphia+.
The Flyers will open round-robin play by facing Boston on Aug. 2, also in Toronto.
Left winger James van Riemsdyk said that if he could pick a roommate, it would probably be young goalie Carter Hart.
“It’s funny to hear some of the stuff that’s coming out of his brain,” he said.