Rookie coach Sacco among finalists

Joe Sacco of the Colorado Avalanche, Dave Tippett of the Phoenix Coyotes and Barry Trotz of the Nashville Predators were named finalists Wednesday for the Jack Adams Award, which is presented to the coach of the year.

Sacco, a rookie coach, turned a young Avalanche team into a playoff contender. Colorado rose from last place in the Western Conference last season to the No. 8 seed this year, the first to accomplish such a feat since 2000-01.

Tippett, fired by the Dallas Stars in June 2009, was hired by the Coyotes -- in turmoil both on and off the ice -- less than a week before the season started.

He managed to settle down the team, which made the playoffs for the first time since 2002. The Coyotes were one of the surprises of the league, improving by 28 points from last season.

Trotz, the only coach in the history of the Predators, led the team to its fifth playoff berth in six seasons, and gave the Chicago Blackhawks a run for their money in the first-round series.

The Predators are the fifth team to have at least 40 wins in each of the past five seasons.