The NHL Awards show took place in the future home of next year’s expansion. Yes, folks. It’s official. Hockey is coming to Las Vegas. They will be the 31st team joining the NHL. I’ll not focus on that in this post.
The point of this entry is on tonight’s awards handed out for the 2015-16 season. Most were pretty straight forward. That included the Hart and Ted Lindsay Award which went to the Blackhawks’ Patrick Kane. He led the league in scoring with a career high 106 points including career bests in goals (46) and assists (60). The controversial Art Ross winner who was the subject of an investigation last summer is a deserving winner for what he did on the ice. Off it, I won’t comment.
Kane received 121 first place votes out of 150 ballots. Sidney Crosby was second with 11 first place votes and 64 second place tallies. Jamie Benn finished third with eight firsts, 34 seconds and 40 thirds. To see the full ballot, click on the link below:
As expected, Braden Holtby won the Vezina as voted on by NHL general managers. He received 26 of 30 first place votes. Finishing runner-up was Ben Bishop with two first place tallies and 12 seconds. Jonathan Quick was third with one first, eight seconds and seven thirds. Holtby tied Martin Brodeur’s individual season NHL record with 48 wins while posting a 2.20 goals-against-average and .922 save percentage. The Caps’ classy netminder was a runaway winner. It’s his first Vezina. To see the full list, check below. Cory Schneider got a second place vote and seven thirds.
The Calder went to top point getter Artemi Panarin of the Blackhawks. The Russian wizatd paced all rookies in goals (30), assists (47) and points (77) while also leading with seven game-winners. He’s the first Blackhawk to win the award since Kane in ’08. That they got to play on the same line with Artem Anisimov was electrifying. The chemistry they had was amazing. Panarin received 88 first place votes to outpoint Shayne Gostisbehere, who was second with 33 firsts and 53 seconds. Edmonton 2015 top overall pick Connor McDavid finished third with 25 firsts, 45 seconds and 48 thirds. Had he played a full season, he would’ve won. The Sabres’ Jack Eichel finished fourth followed by Dylan Larkin and Max Domi. Here is the full ballot:
The only question is who would win for Norris as top defenseman. Would two-time winner Erik Karlsson prevail again with his points-per-game of 82 in 82 with the most ice-time or would it go to Drew Doughty? That was answered resoundingly by the writers who went for Doughty giving him the edge with 93 first place votes compared to Karlsson’s 46. Doughty put up 14 goals and 37 helpers for 51 points along with a career best plus-24 rating while logging over 28 minutes in 82 games. The argument against him was that Karlsson dominated offensively and logged 28:58 which led the league. I guess it depends on what you prefer. With Doughty on the ice at 5-on-5, the Kings were plus-537 in shot attempts. Brent Burns was a distant third with his 27 goals and 75 points hard to ignore.
What about Kris Letang? He finished fourth and received five more first place votes (8) than Burns (3). Just how good was Letang? In 71 games, he achieved career bests in goals (16), assists (51) and points (67). His ice-time was fourth most at 26:56. When you look at his impact on the Pens during their turnaround and run to the Stanley Cup, you can make a strong case that he deserved more recognition. Due to a more rugged style, he’s only played a full 82 once. He’s far more physical and mean than any of the other candidates who finished ahead of him. Maybe one year, he’ll finally get his due. Here is the full Norris ballot:
The Selke for the game’s top defensive forward went to the Kings’ new captain Anze Kopitar. The Slovenian two-way center is easily one of the best players in hockey. He plays a 200-foot game. If he played on another team, maybe he’d put up more points and get some love for Hart. Kopitar had another fantastic season ranking fifth among centers with 74 points (25-49-74) while topping all forwards in plus/minus (34) and total ice-time (1,690:12) averaging out to 20:52. A complete player in every sense, he edged three-time recipient Patrice Bergeron by getting 77 first place votes to Bergeron’s 46. Both are remarkable players who dominate shifts. Ryan Kesler was a distant third followed by Jonathan Toews, Joe Thornton and Aleksander Barkov. No love for Derek Stepan, who could be traded soon. Still think it’s a big mistake. Anyway, here’s the full allotment:
The Lady Byng was awarded to Kopitar, who got 52 first place votes to beat out Barkov (24). Loui Eriksson was third followed by Johnny Gaudreau and the Sabres’ Ryan O’Reilly. Your ballot below which includes the elegant Pavel Datsyuk, who finished sixth. I sure will miss him.
The Jack Adams went to Barry Trotz as expected for the job he did with the President’s Trophy winning Capitals. Too bad it didn’t result in the franchise’s first Stanley Cup. With 58 first place votes, he beat out Florida’s Gerard
Angry Gallant easy. Lindy Ruff was third followed by former Ducks bench boss Bruce Boudreau, who landed in Minnesota. Good luck to Mr. Haagen Dazs! In case you’re wondering, Mike Sullivan was fifth. Personally, I would have had him in my top three. What a job he did in Pittsburgh. Other notables included Pete DeBoer and John “General” Hynes. Why did Dave Hakstol get no love?
In an interesting choice, Jaromir Jagr beat out Mats Zuccarello and Pascal Dupuis for the Masterton which recognizes the player with the most perseverance, dedication and sportsmanship to hockey. Personally, I felt Zuccarello was a better story for what he came back from. Ditto for Dupuis, who had to retire due to blood clots. No doubt he inspired the Pens to win the Cup and got to lift the trophy one more time in an emotional moment. There’s nothing wrong with Jagr winning. His passion for the sport is remarkable. It’s amazing what he can still do 25 years after being selected by the Penguins in the famed 1990 Draft. He also was seventh for the Hart showing just how much he meant to the Panthers’ turnaround. I just feel Zuccarello and Dupuis were more inspirational.
Two of my favorite awards were also presented. The first being the King Clancy Trophy to the player who best exemplifies leadership on and off the ice in the community. Henrik Sedin won that award. And what is there to say about him that hasn’t been said? A classy player who is the fabric of Vancouver along with twin brother Daniel.
The second award was the Mark Messier Leadership one which goes to the player who provides charity and community service. Shea Weber took home the award beating out peers Alexander Ovechkin and John Tavares.
One award I was keeping an eye on was the NHL Foundation Award. There were three worthy candidates including the Islanders’ Matt Martin, the Canadiens’ P.K. Subban and the Flames’ Mark Giordano. The winner was Giordano, who was recognized for Team Giordano, which helps purchase computers and school supplies- having raised $200,000 for four schools. He received a check for $25,000 to his chosen charitable organization which will go to the Calgary School Board and Team Giordano initiative. I thought maybe Subban would win. He’s done so much for Montreal pledging $10 million to Montreal Children’s Hospital. When it comes to generosity, nobody can match Subban in that department. It’s why I’ll never grasp the love/hate relationship he has in Montreal. He gets it.
Other notables included Ovechkin winning the Maurice Richard Trophy for leading the league with 50 goals. His sixth honor and fourth straight. In a more defensive oriented league with goaltending, Ovechkin still finds a way to rifle home 50. Something he’s done six times in his illustrious career including the past three seasons. The most goals he ever scored was 65 in ’07-08. So, he’s recorded 50-or-more in seven seasons. It would be nice if one day, he finally wins a Cup. The prideful 30-year old Russian always leaves it all out there.
In an awkward transition with Elliotte Friedman presenting for EA Sports NHL 2017 cover, Blues’ Russian sniper Vladimir Tarasenko beat out the Sharks’ Joe Pavelski. The 24-year old reached 40 goals for the first time in just his fourth season. His goal totals have gone up every year from 8 in 38 during ’12-13 to 21 in 64 in ’13-14 to 37 in 77 during ’14-15 to 40 in 80 this past season. A super finisher with blinding speed, he should continue to light the lamp.
Jim Rutherford deservedly won General Manager of The Year. His work with the Penguins included trading for Phil Kessel and acquiring Trevor Daley and Carl Hagelin. He also swapped Brandon Sutter for Nick Bonino, who would center the famed HBK line. Eric Fehr was also a solid addition. His most important move was replacing Mike Johnston behind the bench with Sullivan. Rutherford beat out Washington’s Brian MacLellan and the Stars’ Jim Nill.
The All-Rookie Team looks like this:
Goaltender John Gibson, Ducks
Defense Shayne Gostisbehere, Flyers
Defense Colton Parayko, Blues
Forward Jack Eichel, Sabres
Forward Connor McDavid, Oilers
Forward Artemi Panarin, Blackhawks
And finally, the two NHL All-Star Teams:
First All-Star Team
G John Gibson, Capitals
D Drew Doughty, Kings
D Erik Karlsson, Senators
C Sidney Crosby, Penguins
RW Patrick Kane, Blackhawks
LW Jamie Benn, Stars
Second All-Star Team
G Ben Bishop, Lightning
D Brent Burns, Sharks
D Kris Letang, Penguins
C Joe Thornton, Sharks
RW Vladimir Tarasenko, Blues
LW Alexander Ovechkin, Capitals
Not much to dispute here. But always fun to look at the total votes for each position.
That’s gonna do it for the Awards. As for the show itself, it was hideous. The host was awful. I can’t even recall his name. Will Arnett. I just checked. He really was bad. That they brought him back is sad. Just brutal. Very cheesy.
Why didn’t they just have Hart presenter Michael Keaton host? He’s so awesome. He didn’t make no secret that he’s a lifelong Penguins fan before announcing the winner. He teased fans by stopping after Crosby and saying he wins. If he had done his Beetlejuice routine, that would’ve been crazy. 😆
I also liked what Kane said during his acceptance about how his favorite Batman movie was Batman Returns. A nice compliment to Keaton, who is good in everything. Gotta love it.
The most emotional moment came when NHL commissioner Gary Bettman came up to cheers. 😮 Just kidding. Well, they didn’t boo him in Vegas. But he did a nice job paying tribute to Mr. Hockey, Gordie Howe and Ed Snider. One thing about Bettman. He is a good speaker. It was nice to see both of Howe’s sons Mark and Marty come up on stage and pay tribute to their Dad. There will never be another Gordie Howe.
If they want to improve on future award shows, find a different host. Someone who the crowd can identify with. Do more bits that actually have humor in them. Hockey doesn’t have to always be serious. It’s an award show on national TV. Have some fun with it. I would suggest Kevin Spacey or Bill Murray. That would work.
The only saving grace was that ridiculous TSN hostess and Victoria Secret model Erin Heatherton. Wow. She’ll leave ya breathless. All in all, the awards went to the right players. As for the contention that Karlsson should’ve won, then they may as well give it to him every year. Nobody is ever gonna match his offensive totals from the back end. Speaking of which, why didn’t Mike Green ever win? Perhaps it’s time for two awards. One for best offensive defenseman and one for best defensive defenseman.
I know it’ll never happen. Hope everyone who actually tuned in enjoyed the
shit show. In two days, the NHL Draft is in Buffalo. That’s next.