Minnesota Wild coach Jacques Lemaire won the NHL's Adams Award for the league's top coach Thursday in Toronto for leading the third-year Wild to the Western Conference finals.
The Wild finished with 95 points, a 22-point improvement on 2001-02. It was the second time he won the award, but he wasn't on hand to accept it. Instead, he was at his Florida home preparing for his daughter's wedding.
Lemaire beat out finalists Jacques Martin of Ottawa and John Tortorella of Tampa Bay in balloting by NHL broadcasters conducted after the end of the regular season.
The Adams Award is given annually to the NHL coach judged to have contributed the most to his team's success.
"I've always said: They give the trophy to the coach, but it really goes back to the players," said Lemaire. "They're the ones who played so hard, they're the ones who had a good year. When you look around at our team, everyone had a good season and because of that they named me."
Lemaire, 57, won the Adams trophy for the first time in 1994 after leading New Jersey to 47 victories and 106 points in his first season as the Devils' head coach. New Jersey won the Stanley Cup the next season, but Quebec's Marc Crawford won the award that season.
"Coaches win that award for exceeding expectations," Lemaire said. "We achieved things that at the start of the season you never thought we could achieve. It was a very special season. I talk and think about it quite a bit because everyone I meet wants to talk about the season. All the people are saying, 'It's unreal what you did this year,' and I say, 'I know, I know: It is unreal.' I am trying to think about next year."
Wild General Manager Doug Risebrough accepted the trophy for Lemaire.
"Jacques has a great passion for hockey, but a bigger passion for his family," Risebrough said.
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