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Boudreau named NHL’s top head coach for 2007-08

nhl-awards08_200.jpgBruce Boudreau capped off a memorable 2007-08 season on Thursday by winning the Jack Adams Award as the NHL’s top head coach at the league’s annual awards ceremony in Toronto.

Boudreau, who guided Hershey to the 2006 Calder Cup championship, took over a last-place Washington Capitals team on Nov. 22 and led them to the Southeast Division title.

Boudreau beat out fellow finalists Guy Carbonneau of Montreal and Mike Babcock of Detroit to capture the Adams Award. He became just the second man in NHL history to win the Adams after coaching just part of an NHL season, joining Philadelphia’s Bill Barber (2001).

The Capitals were 6-14-1 and at the bottom of the Eastern Conference when Boudreau was summoned from his coaching post in Hershey on Thanksgiving Day. He led Washington to a 37-17-7 mark the rest of the way, and the team beat out Carolina for the division crown on the season’s final weekend. The Capitals fell to Philadelphia in a seven-game opening-round playoff series.

A Toronto native, Boudreau shows a 340-253-62 record in eight-plus seasons as a head coach in the American Hockey League. His Hershey squad followed up its 2006 championship with a return trip to the Calder Cup Finals in 2007, and a Boudreau-coached team in the AHL has never failed to make the playoffs.

Also on Thursday, New Jersey’s Martin Brodeur, who spent his first professional season in the AHL in 1992-93, won the Vezina Trophy as the NHL’s outstanding goaltender for the fourth time in the last five years. Brodeur posted his seventh career 40-win season (44-27-6) to go along with a 2.17 GAA and a .920 save percentage in 77 appearances.

Jason Blake won the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy for perseverence, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey, and Chris Osgood shared the William Jennings Trophy (with Dominik Hasek) as the Detroit Red Wings allowed the fewest goals during the regular season.

AHL graduates grabbed two spots on the NHL’s All-Rookie Team. Goaltender Carey Price won playoff MVP honors as Hamilton captured the 2007 Calder Cup title, and he went 24-12-3 with a 2.56 GAA in 41 games for Montreal in 2007-08, leading the Canadiens to the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Tom Gilbert, who spent most of the 2006-07 season in the AHL with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, was named an NHL All-Rookie defenseman after tallying 33 points (13-20-33) while playing in all 82 games for Edmonton.

AHL alumni named to the NHL’s two All-Star teams include Evgeni Nabokov (G, First Team), Martin Brodeur (G, Second Team), Brian Campbell (D, Second Team), Zdeno Chara (D, Second Team), and Alex Kovalev (RW, Second Team).