Once the large silver trophy is handed to Dustin Brown this June, we won’t have much to talk about until the draft. But unlike the NBA who gives their awards out before random home playoff games, the NHL puts on a show in Las Vegas. Seriously, this is a wonderful idea- inviting a bunch of Canadians who can drink the writers under the table to a place known for… never mind. Let’s just say Vegas seems like the perfect location.
With that said, there isn’t much to pick from this year as far as “competitive races”. But screw it, let’s pick some winners.
Bill Masterton Award
Finalists- Daniel Alfredsson, Joffrey Lupul, Max Pacioretty
Dan: I’d pick Lupul for my ballot, but I’ve got a feeling that the sentimental pick will be Alfie. Regardless, while this isn’t the inspirational ballot we’d like to see these are some good men and good players. And I’m still in the euphoria of Matt Cooke not being a finalist.
CJ: Everyone loves Alfie and Max Pacioretty’s comeback has been noteworthy, but Joffrey Lupul’s career season only a year after it was questioned if he’d ever play again puts the other two to shame. Playing in a market like Toronto where the pressure is always on makes what Lupul did even more remarkable.
Caroline: As terrifying as Max Pacioretty’s injury was, and as heart-warming as Daniel Alfredsson’s return was, Joffrey Lupul’s story hit an entirely different note for me. There just seems to be something a bit heavier about overcoming an actual disorder (blood, in Lupul’s case), rather than returning from an injury of some kind. I’m in no way downplaying the seriousness of either Pacioretty or Aldresson’s return, but Lupul really deserves this.
Link: I’m going to agree with Dan on this one. Lupul fought through some tough times in Anaheim including a back injury and blood infection. I certainly didn’t anticipate seeing his resurgence, especially such a stellar one with Maple Leafs. Will he get overshadowed by the old guy? Probably, but people seem to like voting for old Swedes.
Jack Adams Award
Finalists- Ken Hitchcock, Paul MacLean, John Tortorella
Dan: I can’t see a situation where Ken Hitchcock doesn’t win this award. Fine jobs done by Torts and the Lorax, but Hitchcock turned the ship around in St. Louis. Did he have a talent laden roster? You bet. But the identity of the team has been re-made, and he did what guys like Davis Payne couldn’t do: get the most out of TJ Oshie. If Big Kenny doesn’t win this, I DEMAND AN EXPLANATION.
CJ: I want to start off by saying I’ve always been a John Tortorella guy, any hockey lifer from Massachusetts who ended up in Tampa (Even though those glory days by Tampa Bay are now over for Torts) is obviously a genius and should be rewarded, but he for once is not getting my vote. Paul MacLean did a great job this season with a young nucleus in Ottawa and should be lauded for his efforts, however Ken Hitchcock’s accomplishments with the St. Louis Blues are what warrants him being awarded coach of the year. After struggling through the first dozen games the Blues made the bold choice to fire Davis Payne and bring in the former Blue Jackets bench boss (I bet the Jackets wish Hitch was still with them) from there St. Louis didn’t look back and captured the Central Division and the #2 seed in the West. The abrasive Hitchcock used his tough love to propel the Blues to levels even they weren’t expecting to reach, further cementing the bright future for the team in the Gateway to the West. On a side not: all due respect to Torts, MacLean, and Hitchcock the fact that neither Trotzy nor Florida Panthers bench boss Kevin Dineen weren’t nominated is truly a shame.
Caroline: I hate the Blues. I really do. But if Ken Hitchcock doesn’t win this award, I don’t even know what… he took an absolutely TERRIBLE team comprised of good, but not necessarily “super-star” quality, players and turned them into one of the most difficult teams in the league to beat. And they continued to be one of the most difficult teams to beat for most of the season. (And then they got swept in the playoffs, but we aren’t counting that.)
Link: Hitchcock is easy pick for this award, but I’m going to go with MacLean on this one. Hitchcock turned an underachieving group of payers into a really boring, overachieving out of payers. On the other hand MacLean took what everyone saw as a bunch of bottom feeders into a quality team. Instead of Alfredsson fading into the night he got a good run and may push for one more season.
Frank J. Selke Trophy
Finalists- David Backes, Patrice Bergeron, Pavel Datsyuk
Dan: While normally I’d support Backes, I’m leaning to the side of Bergeron. Faceoffs, scoring, and general smart play will always have a spot on any roster. The knock on Backes is penalty minutes, which he took more than his share. Datsyuk put up some very good numbers, and individually he may be the toughest to play against in the NHL. But, Bergeron has earned his time at the top.
CJ: Has anyone in the NHL accomplished more in the last 2 years than Patrice Bergeron? Olympic Gold, long-term extension, Stanley Cup, Cup winning goal, the list goes on and all due respect to Backes and Datsyuk, this is the year Patrice adds the Selke trophy to his cupboard. Bergeron led the league in plus/minus as well as the reigning champions in shorthanded ice time amongst forwards and emerged as a veteran presence on a youthful line with youngsters Tyler Seguin and Brad Marchand, helping both emerge as elite players. After years of being called one of the most underrated players in the league Bergeron will finally be rewarded for his 200 foot game by being named the league’s best defensive forward.
Caroline: For me, this award really came down to Datsyuk and Bergeron. I don’t have anything against Backes, but I just think Datsyuk and Bergeron were, hands-down, stronger candidates. Pavel is pretty much just good at everything about hockey, so if he were up against anyone but Bergeron, he would win. However, Patrice Bergeron deserves every inch of this award. The guy did everything a defensive forward is supposed to do, and then some. And despite the fact that it’s sometimes a sketchy stat, he did lead the league in +/-, which isn’t easy.
Link: Datsyuk might lose this year because as a whole the Red Wings weren’t the team that we’ve been used to over the past few years. Backes simply isn’t going to win the award of Datsyuk and that leaves Bergeron as the winner.