Thursday, June 12, 2008

The Awards -- Other Honors

What we’re left with is the rest of the awards for this 2007-2008 NHL season. So, let’s get to it (without all the data, mainly because of some major issues with my internet provider…).

Norris Trophy…

“The James Norris Memorial Trophy is an annual award given to the defense player who demonstrates throughout the season the greatest all-round ability in the position. The winner is selected in a poll of the Professional Hockey Writers' Association at the end of the regular season.”

Contrary to popular opinion, this is not being renamed the “Nicklas Lidstrom Trophy.” Lidstrom is, of course, a finalist. That makes nine of the last ten years he has been so honored. He’s won the trophy in five of the last six years (Scott Niedermayer will be the answer to a trivia question on this subject). Dion Phaneuf and Zdeno Chara fill out the requirement that there be three finalists. It won’t matter. Not even Ovechkin winning the Hart is this much of a betting certainty.

Nicklas Lidstrom

Selke Trophy…

“The Frank J. Selke Trophy is an annual award given to the forward who best excels in the defensive aspects of the game. The winner is selected in a poll of the Professional Hockey Writers' Association at the end of the regular season.”

If one looks back on the winners of this award, it is quite a mix of style. Dirk Graham won this award in 1991 with 45 points. Sergei Fedorov won it three years later scoring 120 points. Is it a grit guy? A guy who piles up big plus-minus numbers? There is probably no more subjective award in the suite of honors the league bestows on its players. This year, we have two Red Wings – Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk – and the Devils’ John Madden as finalists. The disparity of style that has marked this award is evident in the selection of these finalists. Datsyuk led the league in plus-minus (+41), but perhaps has been thought of often in his career as more than a high-end skills guy. Zetterberg was fourth in the league in plus-minus and comes to the party with something of a more developed reputation as a two-way player, although this was a career year for him in scoring. John Madden is a former winner (the only one in this group) and is perhaps more of the image one gets when one thinks of the award – a shutdown guy for whom any scoring is gravy.

If this award was voted upon now (as opposed to limiting it to the regular season), Zetterberg is the winner. But, this being a regular season award…

Pavel Datsyuk

Lady Byng Trophy…

“The Lady Byng Memorial Trophy is an annual award given to the player adjudged to have exhibited the best type of sportsmanship and gentlemanly conduct combined with a high standard of playing ability. The winner is selected in a poll of the Professional Hockey Writers' Association at the end of the regular season.”

“Gentlemanly conduct” in a game that has fisticuffs (to use the term of preference in the rule book) shot through its culture is one of those “hockey only” idiosyncrasies that make this sport unique. For us, it has a “who cares” aspect to it (like a “Georgia Frontiere Award” for gentlemanly play in the NFL). But looking at the roster of winners over the years – a Wayne Gretzky, a Ron Francis, a Paul Kariya, a Mike Bossy, and even Pavel Datsyuk the past two years – it is an accomplished group of players. So are these finalists – Martin St. Louis, Datsyuk and Jason Pominville.

Among the three, Pominville and Datsyuk tied for the fewest penalty points, and that impresses us as much as anything else as a reason to select a winner. On “points,” as it were…

Pavel Datsyuk

Masterton Trophy…

“The Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy is an annual award under the trusteeship of the Professional Hockey Writers' Association and is given to the National Hockey League player who best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship, and dedication to hockey. The winner is selected in a poll of all chapters of the PHWA at the end of the regular season.”

Look back over the winners of this award, and you’ll find some of the toughest guys ever to pull on a sweater – Gary Roberts, Cam Neely, Ken Danyeko, Lanny McDonald, to name a few. You’ll also see some players who came back from health or injury issues to excel at the highest levels of the sport – Mario Lemieux, Pat LaFontaine, Bryan Berard, Bobby Clarke. This year’s finalists – Jason Blake, Fernando Pisani, and Chris Chelios – certainly can claim to be qualified. But the oddity is in the last five years of the award. It seems to have alternated between those who have dealt with health/injury issues (Saku Koivu, Bryan Berard, Phil Kessel) and those who, for lack of a better term, might fall under the “dedication” criteria (Teemu Selanne, Steve Yzerman). This year, it’s dedication’s turn…

Chris Chelios

1 comment:

Joe said...

fyi, the Masterson went to Blake in Toronto.