Hockey Night in Canada's resident former coach of the year has unveiled the candidates for this year's prize.
Don Cherry announced Guy Carbonneau of the Montreal Canadiens, Mike Babcock of the Detroit Red Wings, and Bruce Boudreau of the Washington Capitals as the three finalists for the 2008 Jack Adams Award, given annually to the NHL's top head coach as judged by the NHL Broadcasters' Association, during Coach's Corner on Wednesday night.
Cherry, who won the award in 1976 while with the Boston Bruins, revealed this year's finalists during the first intermission of Game 5 of the Eastern Conference semifinal series between the Montreal Canadiens and Philadelphia Flyers.
Cherry said several deserving coaches — including Claude Julien (Boston), Joel Quenneville (Colorado), Michel Therrien (Pittsburgh), Barry Trotz (Nashville), John Stevens (Philadelphia) — didn't make the cut, which speaks to the depth of quality bench bosses in the NHL.
"I have never seen, ever, such (a number of) worthy candidates in all my life, but unlike when I won it, it was a foregone conclusion," quipped Cherry.
In his second NHL season as coach, Carbonneau guided the Canadiens (47-25-10, 104 points) to their first 45-win and 100-point season in 15 years, their first division title in 17 years, and their first Eastern Conference title in 19 years.
Montreal, which did not lose more than three consecutive games all season, was also the NHL's highest-scoring club in 2007-08 with 262 goals and boasted the league's top-ranked power play (90 for 372, 24.2 per cent).
Babcock posted his third consecutive 50-win campaign behind the Detroit bench, as the Red Wings (with a record of 54-21-7, and 115 points) captured the Presidents' Trophy for the NHL's top regular-season record.
The Red Wings surpassed the 100-point mark for the eighth consecutive season, tying Montreal's record streak from 1974-75 through 1981-82. Detroit also won its seventh consecutive division title and qualified for the Stanley Cup playoffs for the 17th consecutive season.
Named head coach on Nov. 22 with the Capitals sitting in the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings with a 6-14-1 record, Boudreau, in his first NHL assignment behind the bench, led his club to a 37-17-7 mark the rest of the season to help Washington capture the Southeast Division title.
Alain Vigneault of the Vancouver Canucks won the Jack Adams Award award last year.
This year's winner will be announced June 12 during the 2008 NHL Awards ceremony in Toronto