Wednesday, June 22, 2011

NHL Awards Recap

The 2011 NHL Awards have been handed out, and here are some thoughts.

**Tim Thomas, Vezina: I called this one in December. Thomas went on a run in the first half of the season that was nothing short of remarkable. His post all-star numbers were decidedly ordinary, but still enough to lock down goalie of the year. In January at work I was walking by a group of Canuck fans talking about the team and one guy mentioned that Roberto Luongo might end up winning the Vezina. Without breaking stride I interrupted with "Tim Thomas will win the Vezina" and continued walking.

**Dan Bylsma, Jack Adams: Allow me to express my amazement that a number of people in the Vancouver media seemed to think Alain Vigneault deserved this award. There is no question what Dan Bylsma did keeping the Penguins afloat without Malkin and Crosby was more brilliant than lucky. What made the injuries even more devastating was that they were so close together, losing two of the best players in the game; then grinding out a respectable season with a collection of inexpensive role players. Jordan Staal and Kris Letang definitely deserve assists on this one.

**Corey Perry, Hart: Voted best player in the league by the media, but not by his peers. Boy that's a shock. Perry has quite a reputation for being a jackass. Guaranteed he did not get any votes from the Red Wings for the NHLPA MVP, but the media recognized how astonishing his second half performance actually was. Sure he benefited by playing with some highly skilled and physical linemates. Perry-Getzlaf-Ryan was easily the best line in hockey this season. Getzlaf gets a big assist for this trophy and should maybe have his name engraved in smaller print under Perry's (assuming names are even engraved in the Hart Trophy).

**Nicklas Lidstrom, Norris: All hail Nicklas the great! We're not worthy! We're not worthy! 7 Norris Trophies, many won after the age of 30. Even at 41 years old he was the best defenseman in the league last year. You knew Chara wouldn't get the votes after the hit on Paccorietty, whether or not it should matter. Lidstrom is now 1 Norris shy of the record set by Bobby Orr and will be returning for another season.

**Daniel Sedin, Art Ross, NHLPA MVP: Voted best player by his peers and the NHL's leading scorer marks a strong season for the Sedin brothers. Vancouver media speculated that playing with Henrik hurt Daniel's chances at the Hart, but Perry played with Getzlaf and Ryan, which is arguably a stronger support staff. Vancouver is lucky to have the twins, and would not have made it as far as they did without them.

**Mike Gillis, top executive: How the Keith "Healthy Scratch" Ballard trade did not disqualify Gillis from this award defies logic. He traded a player now nominated for the Calder to Florida for a healthy scratch. The Luongo contract is one of the worst in hockey. Sure he has made some shrewd moves as General Manager and he is good at his job, but this award should have had Steve Yzerman's name written all over it.

**Ryan Kesler, Selke: A very deserving honour for best defensive forward, or should I say, best defensive forward as chosen from among the top 30 offensive players. The Selke has evolved to the point where offensive production is almost as important as defensive efficiency when choosing a victor. If offense were not allowed as a variable, my nominees for the Selke would have been Jannik Hansen, Gregory Campbell, and Justin Abdelkader.

**Jeff Skinner, Calder: Players who are this productive this fast are a rare commodity indeed. Just months after being drafted as an 18 year old, he finds himself in the NHL lighting lamps on fire. Excellent player with a bright future.

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