Wednesday, August 13, 2014

The PIPE-ies: Top Coach

After a week of collecting nominations from our audience and media colleagues, last night on TPS we made it official. The nominees in all 10 categories were announced and now the voting for the winners can begin.

After the jump, the names of the nominees in the category of Top Coach during 2013-14 in their respective league and why they are worthy of consideration.

In alphabetical order, the nominees for Top Rookie of 2013-14 are...

Rick Bennett (Union Dutchmen)

Photo: Union College
The opening 2013-14 USCHO power rankings in the NCAA had the Dutchmen pegged as 16th best in the country. Union only had one player on its roster that had been drafted by a NHL team. Despite an average outlook at the start of the year with what looked like a good, but not great roster, Union was able to exceed expectations and not only reach the #1 spot in the rankings but eventually claim their first ever NCAA National Championship. Bennett was given the Spenser Penrose Award as top Division I hockey coach for his work behind the bench of the Dutchmen.      

Trent Cassan (Yorkton Terriers)

Photo: Andy Devlin
The former Yorkton Terrier player rejoined the team in 2010 and the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League club has enjoyed tremendous success since then. The Terriers have been to their league final 4 of the last 5 years and are currently 2-time SJHL champs. This past season Cassan led his troops to the RBC Cup and returned to Saskatchewan with a National Championship in tow. Cassan's name has come up this summer as several WHL teams have conducted searches for a new coach. 

Willie Desjardins (Texas Stars)

Photo: Texas Stars
One day not long ago, Willie Desjardins was on the bench of the Medicine Hat Tigers and had the respect of everyone is junior hockey. He was considered one of the top coaches in amateur hockey and when he moved on to the Dallas Stars organization, it didn't surprise anyone. This past season in the AHL, Desjardins' Texas Stars ended the season in first place and went on to capture the Calder Cup as well.   

Derek Laxdal (Edmonton Oil Kings)

Photo: Andy Devlin
There weren't many around the WHL who believed the Oil Kings could possibly repeat as WHL Conference champions for a third consecutive year (although TPS did). The team had lost a number of talent from the previous campaign but Edmonton not only reached the WHL final again but won their second league championship in three years, the second since Laxdal took over as head coach. The Oil Kings would go on to win the Memorial Cup and Laxdal was named to Canada's U18 team as head coach before replacing Desjardins as the new bench boss for the Texas Stars.  

Patrick Roy (Colorado Avalanche)

Because we include NHL rookie players as candidates for the PIPE-ies it only seemed fair to extend that to 1st year NHL coaches as well. In light of that, how could we not add Patrick Roy to the list of finalists?  Right from opening night and his spirited altercation with Bruce Boudreau, the Avalanche players seemed to buy in completely and the club enjoyed much more success than almost anyone expected them to have. 

We are collecting votes for the next week until Tuesday August 19th when we announce the winners of the 2014 PIPE-ies. If you want to cast your vote, let us hear it. Tweet us at @TPS_Guy and @DuckMillard and include the hashtag #TPSAwards in your vote.    

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