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Saturday, June 20, 2009

NHL Awards Time!

Yes, this is late, but I've been terribly busy lately, so forgive me. :)

So, the NHL Awards commenced on Thursday night, and it was a ceremony that... well, raised my eyebrow a couple of times (particularly with the musical guest choice) but was overall okay. I only have this much to say... seriously, NHL, you've got to get some rock music back into the Awards ceremony. I understand you guys might be a little bit wary after Def Leppard decided to be complete idiots with the Stanley Cup (here: http://sports.yahoo.com/nhl/blog/puck_daddy/post/No-one-gave-Def-Leppard-the-Stanley-Cup-instruct?urn=nhl,113984 ) but come on, Chaka Khan and Robin Thicke? They might be hands-off, but they certainly don't scream "hockey" to me. It was just a little bit unsettling to see them up there... and I'm sure I'm not the only person who thinks this.

Anyway, back to the awards. Russia was certainly represented well, with Alexander Ovechkin taking home a lot of precious metal- he won the Hart Award for MVP, the Lester Pearson Trophy for the players' choice outstanding player, and the Maurice Richard trophy for goalscoring leader, outshadowing friend, rival and countryman Evgeni Malkin, who I feel is probably just as deserving of the Hart. But Malkin has one thing that Ovie doesn't have: the Stanley Cup.

For his part, Malkin won the Art Ross trophy for highest number of points scored, and Red Wings forward Pavel Datsyuk won both the Selke Trophy for defensive forward and the Lady Byng Memorial Trophy for most gentlemanly player (over Zach Parise of the NJ Devils, who I thought would have gotten the nod). Both of these players, however, were well-deserving of their awards.

As was Tim Thomas, the surprise winner of the Vezina Trophy. After an All-Star appearance and an overall sterling year (2.10 GAA in regular season and 5 shutouts, 1.85 GAA and 1 SO in playoffs) he won the award over Minnesota's Nicklas Backstrom and Columbus' Steve Mason. He also won, along with fellow Bruin Manny Fernandez, the William F. Jennings Trophy for the goalie tandem with the fewest goals against, in a minimum of 25 games.

Meanwhile, Mason continued representing the goalies with his win over Kris Versteeg of the Blackhawks and Bobby Ryan of the Anaheim Ducks for the Calder Trophy for Best Rookie. I honestly can't imagine a more deserving candidate- 10 shutouts on the season and an overall amazing record after stepping into the starting role unexpectedly is incredible. His success resulted in the eventual trade of Pascal Leclaire for Antoine Vermette, unfortunately, but I am sure that he will only continue to shine for the Blue Jackets in the years to come.

Other winners include:

- Zdeno Chara, Boston, the Norris Trophy for best defenseman (well-deserved)
- Claude Julien, Boston, the Jack Adams Award for coach of the year (perhaps it was a bit too late in the making, but I thought Dan Bylsma should have snagged this one for winning the Stanley Cup as a rookie head coach!)
- Ethan Moreau, Edmonton, the King Clancy Award for humanitarian contributions to hockey (and there were very many on his part; great to see that he's recognized for his efforts)
- Jarome Iginla, Calgary, the Mark Messier Leadership Award.
-Steve Sullivan, Nashville, the Masterton Trophy for perseverance and dedication in the sport of hockey. (Wow, there were a LOT of winners from the Western Conference.)

Jean Beliveau, formerly of the Montreal Canadiens, was given the NHL's Lifetime Achievement Award for this year. I will be doing a post on him shortly, so all I will say for now is congratulations on an illustrious career and on the award.

Overall, the place was quieter than a library on many occasions, and the entertainment factor could have been higher. But the NHL Awards still manage to celebrate the sport of hockey and its extremely skilled players in its own way. And I suppose that is what really counts.

Til later!

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