Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

How Can This Be? Sullivan Not a Finalist Two Top Coaches Think He's Nhl's Coach of the Year

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

How Can This Be? Sullivan Not a Finalist Two Top Coaches Think He's Nhl's Coach of the Year

Article excerpt

LAS VEGAS - Mike Babcock occupied one set of risers Tuesday on a steamy Las Vegas afternoon. Across a vast ballroom inside the Encore at Wynn Las Vegas was Todd McLellan. Earlier, John Tortorella stood a few feet down from Babcock's perch.

Three great coaches. Toronto Maple Leafs, Edmonton Oilers and Columbus Blue Jackets, respectively. All deserving candidates for the Jack Adams Award. But one guy was missing - back-to-back Stanley Cup winner Mike Sullivan of the Penguins.

"Forget about the Cups," Tortorella told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. "I thought the way [Sullivan] handled his team, with all the injuries they went through . the different lineups . I don't get it."

Tortorella was happy for the nomination because it meant the Blue Jackets had a successful year, but make no mistake: He thought Sullivan, one of his best friends, should have been there with him. Or even in spite of him.

"I don't want to get into trying to change the rules, but I think the playoffs should count with this type of stuff," Tortorella said. "That's when a lot of things go on with coaches and matchups. Maybe changing a little bit within your team concept.

"You know how I feel about 'Sully.' You don't win two Cups in a row when you're not one of the top coaches in the National Hockey League. I've felt that way about him for a long time. He's finally getting the opportunity to show that."

Tortorella and Sullivan have not spoken since the Penguins' Cup-clinching, Game 6 win in Nashville, Tenn.

Sullivan called Tortorella Monday. Tortorella was traveling. Tortorella called back Tuesday and got Sullivan's voicemail. Tortorella said Sullivan currently is back in Boston.

"I'm looking forward to talking to him," Tortorella said.

Making difficult decisions is one of the things that resonates most with Tortorella regarding Sullivan, one of the biggest being his decision to go with Matt Murray, and not Marc-Andre Fleury, in the middle of the Eastern Conference final.

Bruins center Patrice Bergeron played for Sullivan in Boston and had similar things to say - about Sullivan being direct and fair and giving Bergeron a chance as an 18-year-old rookie drafted in the second round. …

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