Panthers' Dineen not among Adams Finalists

SUNRISE, FL - DECEMBER 30: Head coach Kevin Dineen of the Florida Panthers talks to linesman Greg Devorski #54 and linesman Darren Gibbs #66 after the Panthers were called offside against the New York Rangers on December 30, 2011 at the BankAtlantic Center in Sunrise, Florida. The Rangers defeated the Panthers 4-1. (Photo by Joel Auerbach/Getty Images)

Word came down late Monday morning that the league had announced its three nominees for the 2012 Jack Adams Award, celebrating the "coach adjudged to have contributed the most to his team's success", and one name was conspicuously absent: that of Florida Panthers rookie bench boss Kevin Dineen.

Named as finalists were Ken Hitchcock of the St. Louis Blues, John Tortorella of the New York Rangers, and Paul MacLean of the Ottawa Senators, himself a first-year NHL coach.

All three are very worthy selections considering each on his own achievements this year: a 180-degree quarter-season turnaround by the Blues, a Presidents Trophy runner-up for the Rangers, and a Senators squad most pundits - myself included - saw destined for 14th or 15th in the Eastern Conference only to roar into a seventh-game elimination in round one.

Still, it's a bit unnerving that Dineen's efforts were not considered equal to at least the work of Torts or MacLean, as New York and Ottawa essentially had their "cores" more or less firmly established before the season kicked off. Dino had no such luxury, with not only himself being a newb to the organization, but better than two-thirds of the roster were recent arrivals, as has been well documented. It was a situation that had enormous potential for utter disaster that could have left a lesser man's career in tatters.

Get 'em next year.

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