The annual NHL Awards show has always been a struggle to watch. Some years, there’s literally no question about who will come away as the winner, and the ‘entertainment’ lined up by the league’s braintrust is embarrassingly bad. This year we had some legit intrigue as to who would walk away with trophies, and some really special (and heart-wrenching) moments. The entertainment was utter shite, though. Some things never change.
Here’s how it all went down.
Ted Lindsay Award: Connor McDavid, Edmonton Oilers. Hardly a shock here, as McDavid was going to walk away with the players’ vote no matter what. The debate may still rage on about why he could win the Lindsay and not the Hart, but when your team finishes 17 points out of the playoffs, should you really be considered the MVP?
Norris Trophy: Victor Hedman, Tampa Bay Lightning. I like this pick. Sure, PK Subban had a great year, but Hedman was a beast all year long. I do wish that the consideration for this trophy actually took into consideration the best defensive defencemen instead of just the ones who create the most offence, but this is still a good choice. And not seeing Doughty get it again is something we can all get behind.
King Clancy Trophy: Daniel Sedin and Henrik Sedin, Vancouver Canucks. The real no-brainer of the night. A fitting tribute to a career of selflessness and leadership off the ice as well as on it. The Sedins are the standard bearers for what a player’s role should be in their community, not just for the Canucks but for the league. It still hasn’t sunk in that they won’t be there next season, but it was a thrill to see them get this last night.
Calder Trophy: Mathew Barzal, New York Islanders. Look, I know you’re disappointed for Brock Boeser, but let’s be honest: Even if he of the sick flow had stayed healthy for the rest of the season, even if he had broken Pavel Bure’s record for goals by a Canucks rookie, he still would have been the 2nd best rookie in the league this season. And while it would have been close, the Eastern writers were never going to give the nod to someone from the West Coast who plays half his games while they’re in bed. Having the 2nd best rookie isn’t a bad thing, so let’s just be happy for what we have and what he can do next year. Besides, we all know it’s Pettersson’s trophy next season, right?
Lady Byng Trophy: William Karlsson, Vegas Golden Knights. I thought this one might go to Ryan O’Reilly, who only served one minor penalty all season long, but as they’ve done all season long, Vegas finds a way to come out on top.
Masterton Award: Brian Boyle, New Jersey Devils. Really hoped that Roberto Luongo would pull this one off, but Boyle’s a worthy winner. His recovery from a pretty scary cancer diagnosis and treatment to rejoin the Devils was a great story.
Selke Trophy: Anze Kopitar, Los Angeles Kings. This one sucks. Kopitar was stellar offensively this season, but his defensive numbers were not good, and he was by far the worst of the three nominees. Sean Couturier or Patrice Bergeron were far more deserving of the award.
Jack Adams Award: Gerard Gallant, Vegas Golden Knights. It’s hard to argue with this one, despite an impressive job by Colorado’s Jared Bednar, who took his team from worst to the playoffs in a great one-season turn around.
Messier Leadership Award: Deryk Engelland, Vegas Golden Knights. The dumbest award of the entire lot. It’s literally one step away from a trophy for grit and heart. Didn’t matter who won this, Messier will always be a pox on the league and his name tied to supposed values of leadership is a joke. Screw him.
Vezina Trophy: Pekka Rinne, Nashville Predators. The first real “You can tell these votes were cast before the playoffs” of the night, because hoo-boy, did he stink the joint up in the playoffs. The Preds should have been challenging for the Cup, instead they went out in Round 2 because the best goalie in the league was the worst goalie in the playoffs.
General Manager of the Year: George McPhee, Vegas Golden Knights. The job that McPhee and his team did in assembling the Golden Knights, fleecing and embarrassing some teams in the expansion draft was a master class on how to assemble a winning team.
Willie O’Ree Community Hero Award: Darcy Haugan, Humboldt Broncos coach. Not sure how one couldn’t be moved to tears during this part of the ceremonies. Seeing the surviving Broncos (minus the 3 still in hospital together) along with Haugan’s wife and her poignant speech was a very powerful moment. A great move by the NHL. Now if they would just put Mr. O’Ree into the hall of fame where he belongs...
Hart Trophy: Taylor Hall, New Jersey Devils. I had a feeling this would happen, and the Oilers schadenfreude was even more delicious than I could have hoped for. Best part of the night? This tweet.
Still like the deal.— Dustin Nielson (@nielsonTSN1260) June 21, 2018
LOL. One for one. Wheeeeee. Anyway, good luck trying to get rid of Looch’s hilarious contract. And good for Taylor Hall. Dude was savaged by the Edmonton media (and still is) and got his revenge in a great way: leading the Devils to a playoff berth and winning the MVP to rub in their faces.
So despite one award being handed out by some second-rate ventriloquist, and the hilarious magician fucking up his card trick reveal on the Selke award, this was a somewhat decent night, but the NHL still finds ways to just be so damn awkward. I do like that the ballots were made available this year. Transparency in voting on things like this is always good. And it was hilarious to see some of the homer votes, as best evidenced by the Norris Trophy voting results:
Voting for the James Norris Memorial Trophy by members of the PHWA: pic.twitter.com/ZlXsDF2Bjk— PHWA (@ThePHWA) June 21, 2018
Not sure what’s funnier: that someone thought Dougie Hamilton was the 2nd best defenceman in the NHL last year, or that Josh Manson was the 4th best in someone’s eyes. Good lord.
Now the eyes of the hockey world turn to Dallas and tomorrow night’s 1st round of the 2018 NHL Entry Draft. The Canucks pick 7th, and the debate still rages on about what the team should do. We’ll be here for it all as always, and eager to hear what you have to say.