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Jack Adams


Jack Adams, while with the Toronto Arenas

There’s a reason Jack Adams (1894-1968) has an award named after him. Being the only person to have won the Stanley Cup as a player, coach and general manager, Jack Adams is synonymous with the game of hockey. Born in Fort William, Ontario in 1894, Adams’s hockey career started in 1914 as a player for the Fort Williams Maple Leafs in the NHML, and ended in 1947 after 20 terrific seasons as head coach of the Detroit Red Wings.

Jack Adams Hockey Resume Highlights

As a player, Adams was a center for the Toronto Arenas (NHL), Vancouver Millionaires (PCHA), Toronto St. Patricks (NHL; later became the Maple Leafs) and Ottawa Senators (NHL). His NHL career player stats include:

  • 83 regular-season goals
  • 115 regular-season points 

Adams won two Stanley Cups as a player — first with the Arenas in 1918, then with the Senators in 1927.

A tough player with 366 career PIM (penalties in minutes), Adams made his real mark in the league as a head coach. In his 20 years as Red Wings head coach and GM, he racked up success after success:

  • Stanley Cup runner-up to the Chicago Blackhawks in 1933-34
  • Stanley Cup champion over the Maple Leafs in 1935-36
  • Stanley Cup champion over the New York Rangers in 1936-37
  • Stanley Cup runner-up to the Boston Bruins in 1940-41
  • Stanley Cup runner-up to the Maple Leafs in 1941-42
  • Stanley Cup champion over the Bruins in 1942-43
  • Stanley Cup runner-up to the Maple Leafs in 1944-45
  • 964 regular-season games coached
  • 105 playoff games coached
  • 413-390-161 regular-season career coaching record
  • 105-52-1 playoff career coaching record
  • Second all-time in Red Wings coaching wins (behind Mike Babcock) 

After stepping down as head coach, Adams won four more Stanley Cups as Detroit’s GM (1950, 1952, 1954 and 1955). He served as Detroit GM until 1963. In 1959, Adams was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame.   

The Jack Adams Award 

To memorialize this legendary coach, the NHL created the Jack Adams Award in 1973. It is bestowed on the NHL coach who contributes the most to his team’s success. The winner is selected by the National Hockey League Broadcasters’ Association after the regular season. You can read more about the Jack Adams Award in the NHL Awards section of Pro Stock Hockey Resources.

Interesting Facts About Jack Adams, Hockey Legend 

  • Though Adams made his mark as a head coach and general manager, he was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame as a player. That certainly says something about his playing ability. Adams is thus arguably the top all-around NHL talent of all time. 
  • Adams was as tough as a coach and hockey executive as he was as a player. He was known for “professional” confrontations on and off the ice, including his habit of lambasting refs for what he considered to be bad calls. He was once ejected for punching a ref in a 1942 Stanley Cup Final game. Nevertheless, or perhaps because of his pugnacity, Adams was known as “Jolly Jack.”
  • Adams was responsible for discovering, signing and developing Gordie Howe, one of the best two or three players ever to take the ice. Adams also nurtured the careers of other Red Wings standouts including Red Kelly, Ted Lindsay and Terry Sawchuk.
  • After all his success, Adams’ career with the Red Wings ended on a sour note, having been embroiled in a unionization controversy that caused many Red Wings players to leave the team. This just goes to show that nobody is perfect — but when it comes to hockey excellence, Jack Adams was about as close to it as you can get.  

(Image Credit – Wikimedia Commons)