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Tuesday, June 17, 2014

And Here Are Your Finalists

The NHL Awards are June 24th this year at the Encore Theatre at the Wynn in Las Vegas.  Last I checked, they will be broadcast on the NBCSN and CBC in Canada.

Everyone has their opinions of who should win and why so I figured why not start a discussion.

First up, everyone's favorite award.  The 2013-14 NHL General Manager of the Year Award.  I don't have a horse in this race since the Pens GM is only a few weeks old and the previous one is unemployed.

Marc Bergevin of the Montreal Canadiens

Dean Lombardi of the Los Angeles Kings

Bob Murray of the Anaheim Ducks

My vote goes for Bergevin because I think he had less to work with and took a team that some people had written off and made them an Eastern Conference finalist by adding names like Briere, Vanek, Parros, and Murray (plus he played for the Penguins once upon a time).  But...since the Kings won the Cup, Lombardi will most likely win this one.

Next up is the Jack Adams Award for Coach of the Year.  Again, I have no horse since my team is currently without a coach because the old one, Dan Bylsma, was relieved of his duties.  He is currently interviewing for one of those expansion teams down south.

Mike Babcock of the Detroit Red Wings

Jon Cooper of the Tampa Bay Lightning

Patrick Roy of the Colorado Avalanche

The obvious choice here would be Mike Babcock considering how he was able to guide that team to it's 23rd consecutive playoff berth despite over 400 man games lost to injury.  With Datsuyk and Zetterberg out for 37 games, he was still able to get that team to perform.  But, my vote is going to go to Jon Cooper because he did more with less I think.  Coming into the NHL as a head coach is rough and many guys can't cut it but after winning the Calder last season in the AHL and focusing this team around a "youth-movement", he was able to guide them to a second place finish and playoff berth, all the while having Stamkos on the shelf for half the season and losing Martin St. Louis at the trade deadline.

The next award is what I would consider the most important.  The Ted Lindsay Award is given to the most outstanding player and is the only award voted on by the players themselves.  To be honored and respected by sportswriters is one thing, but to get that from your peer, teammates, and colleagues is something entirely different.

Sidney Crosby of the Pittsburgh Penguins

Ryan Getzlaf of the Anaheim Ducks

Claude Giroux of the Philadelphia Flyers

I'm not even discussing this one.  Crosby is my vote.  When you have the #1, 2, and 3 scorers in the league, the obvious pick is #1.

The NHL Foundation Player Award goes to the player that applies the core values of hockey - commitment, perseverance and teamwork - to enrich the lives of people in their community.  The player that wins this gets $25,000 donated to their chosen charity on behalf of the Foundation.

Patrice Bergeron of the Boston Bruins

Brent Burns of the San Jose Sharks

Duncan Keith of the Chicago Blackhawks

If this award was for on-ice performance of some sort, I'd be going for Duncan Keith.  But it's not.  My pick goes to Brent Burns.  He has donated over $1 million to the Defending the Blue Line program which provides children of military families the chance to play the expensive game of hockey.  Anyone that uses their fame and fortune to help support the military is a winner in my book.  Plus he shaved off his signature horrendous beard, raising $24,000 in the process for DTBL.

The big award every year is the Hart Trophy.  This is presented to the player that is voted the most valuable to his team.  It's a little lopsided sometimes in the voting because this comes from the Hockey Writers Assn. but all the players this year a very deserving.

Sidney Crosby of the Pittsburgh Penguins

Ryan Getzlaf of the Anaheim Ducks

Claude Giroux of the Philadelphia Flyers

Same guys as the Lindsey Award and again, my vote is for Crosby.  He already won the Art Ross for the leagues best scorer.  The man is not only the MVP of his team but of the league as well.  Without him, the Pens play different.  With him at 100%, they are virtually unstoppable.  He makes everyone on the ice better.  Everyone, offensively and defensively.  I'm not knocking Getzlaf either though because he had the best season of his career.  But I also would never vote for a Flyer for anything other than who goes first in front of the firing squad so, sorry Claude.

The next award is the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy which goes to the player who best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to the game of hockey.  The winner gets their name on a $2,500 donation to the Bill Masterton Scholarship Fund.

Jaromir Jagr of the New Jersey Devils

Manny Malhotra of the Carolina Hurricanes

Dominic Moore of the New York Rangers

Of the three guys here, Dominic Moore has the best story (and will probably win).  He gave up hockey to take care of his wife who had liver cancer and eventually passed away last year.  Malhotra's story is a good one too, being able to fight back from an eye injury that most guys would have called a career.  But, give it to Jags.  You kind of have to, don't you?  At least I would.  Plus, how many trophies is he going to be getting from here on out?  This guy is ageless and each year since his return, has shown he can still play, can still compete, and still be a force on the ice.  His training regimen is awe-inspiring for a 42 year old.  Hell, it's impressive for an 18 year old.  His dedication to the game of hockey and staying play-ready is second to none.

The next award is the only one chosen by one person, and that's Mark Messier.  The Mark Messier NHL Leadership Award is given to the player who exemplifies great leadership qualities to his team, on and off the ice, during the regular season.  Each year, Mark reviews a list of suggested recipients submitted by clubs and fans.

Dustin Brown of the Los Angeles Kings

Ryan Getzlaf of the Anaheim Ducks

Jonathan Toews of the Chicago Blackhawks

Brown has been captain of the Kings for the last six seasons and does a ton of work for local children's hospitals in LA.  Getzlaf has his big golf event every year that raised $300,000 last year for his charity.  But my vote, since it's "on and off" the ice goes to Jonathan Toews.  Few guys in the league can even come close to the impact he has in his leadership role on the ice in Chicago.  He's been the team captain since he was 20 years old and his work with the Make A Wish foundation in Chicago is legendary.

My second favorite award is the James Norris Memorial Trophy given out to the leagues best defenseman.

Zdeno Chara of the Boston Bruins

Duncan Keith of the Chicago Blackhawks

Shea Weber of the Nashville Predators

I'm going with Weber.  Chara always gets nominated for this award because he basically never leaves the ice.  Keith is a great D-man and is well deserving of the award.  But both these guys have help.  The best offensive and defensive D-man is Weber in my book.  He led all defenseman in points, led his team in scoring, and finished the last half of the season as a +11.  That means when he is out there, Nashville is a better team.

The Vezina Trophy goes to the leagues best goalie.  It isn't given to the most handsome guy, the most liked guy, the most charitable guy, etc.  It goes to the best goaltender...period.

Ben Bishop of the Tampa Bay Lightning

Tuukka Rask of the Boston Bruins

Semyon Varlamov of the Colorado Avalanche

Varlamov was a force in Colorado.  He broke his coaches (Patrick Roy) franchise records and put up some highlight reel worthy saves this season.  His run in with the law earlier in the year hurts his popularity contest here but there is no denying his talent on the ice.  Bishop was also a beast for Tampa Bay and the biggest reason they finished second and made it to the playoffs despite having much of their star power depleted.  But the best goalie this year was Rask.  Without Rask, Boston doesn't float to the top of the East or make the playoffs.  He put up the second best save percentage, tops in shut outs, fourth in GAA and fifth in wins, the only goalie to rank top 5 in the statistically tracked goaltending categories.  He was in beast mode when they needed him to be and Boston won the President's Trophy as a result.

The Frank Selke Memorial Trophy is given out to the forward who best excels in the defensive aspects of the game.  In other words, the defensive minded centerman and wingers.

Patrice Bergeron of the Boston Bruins

Anze Kopitar of the Los Angeles Kings

Jonathan Toews of the Chicago Blackhawks 

If this was 2013, I would say either Bergeron or Toews were easy picks but this year, my vote goes to Kopitar.  The only guy on the list to appear in all 82 games, he logged the most ice time of anyone (except Crosby).  He's a big reason why the Kings were the league leaders in lowest GPG.  He also finished a +34 and won over 5-% of his 1,451 face offs.  Now that the Kings have the Cup, he's a lock for sure.

I know most people don't care about the NHL Awards but if you are interested in leaving your thoughts, please do.

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