Former Pieri Award winner among Jack Adams finalists

San Jose Sharks coach Todd McLellan and Boston Bruins coach Claude Julien, who led the NHL’s top two teams this season, and Andy Murray, who lifted the St. Louis Blues to a surprising Stanley Cup Playoff berth, are the three finalists for the 2009 Jack Adams Award in voting by the NHL Broadcasters’ Association.

The Sharks topped the Western Conference with an NHL-best 117 points. The Bruins won the Eastern Conference with 116 points.

McLellan, who was head coach of the Houston Aeros from 2001-05 and won the Calder Cup in 2003, guided the Sharks to their fourth Pacific Division crown in the past seven years and to their first Western Conference title and first Presidents’ Trophy as the NHL’s best team during the regular season. If selected, he would be the first Sharks coach to win the Adams Award.

Julien, winner of the 2002-03 Louis A.R. Pieri Award as AHL coach of the year with the Hamilton Bulldogs, led the Bruins from an eighth-place finish in the Eastern Conference a year ago to front-running victories in the Northeast Division and Eastern Conference. If selected, Julien would join previous Bruins’ Jack Adams Award winners Don Cherry in 1976 and Pat Burns in 1998.

The Blues were the fourth-worst team in the NHL a year ago, but under Murray’s guidance they produced an NHL-best 25-9-7 second-half record that propelled them to sixth place in the Western Conference and their first Stanley Cup Playoff appearance in four seasons. Blues coaches Red Berenson in 1981, Brian Sutter in 1991 and Joel Quenneville in 2000 also won the Adams.

The award is named for one of the legendary leaders in hockey history. Adams, a center, won two Stanley Cups playing for the 1918 Toronto Arenas and 1927 Ottawa Senators. He began a 36-year career with Detroit’s NHL franchise in the fall of 1927. Adams coached or general managed the Red Wings to seven Stanley Cups. Ironically, he was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1959 as a player.

Philadelphia Flyers coach Fred Shero, a Calder Cup champion in 1970, won the first Jack Adams Award in 1974. Red Wings coach Jacques Demers is the only repeat winner, in 1987-88. Burns is the only coach to win three times, with Montreal, Toronto and Boston, while Scotty Bowman, Pat Quinn and Jacques Lemaire have won twice.

Former Calder Cup champions Bill Barber, in 2001, and Bruce Boudreau, the reigning winner, are the only midseason replacements to win the Jack Adams Award. The only coaches to win the Jack Adams Award and Stanley Cup in the same year were Shero, Bowman in 1977 with Montreal, and former Calder Cup champion John Tortorella with Tampa Bay in 2004.

The 2009 NHL Awards will be broadcast live from the Pearl Concert Theater inside the Palms Hotel Las Vegas on June 18 on VERSUS in the United States and CBC in Canada.