The Los Angeles Kings will honor Luc Robitaille with his own statue outside the Staples Center, where he will join fellow luminary Wayne Gretzky. But let’s play Oprah here and give everybody a statue! Below you’ll find new candidates for every NHL franchise. Legends who already have statues are noted, too. And yes, some players get two statues because they managed to win hearts in multiple cities.
I’ve been watching the Tour de France nightly the past couple of weeks and am taken by one of the awards they give out after each stage. It’s the Combativity Award and it goes to the cyclist that day who shows the most fighting spirit.
This isn’t about tossing an elbow out when a competitor tries to zoom by or sticking a leadpipe in the spokes of an unsuspecting rival. The combative award goes to the individual who attacks on the road. That is to say, the cyclist who makes the most attempts to break away from the peloton or chase down leading groups. It’s also called the most aggressive rider prize, or as TDF analyst Paul Sherwen calls it, the rider who most often “throws the cat among the pigeons.”
The winner each stage gets called to the podium, is handed a bouquet of flowers and a stuffed animal, gets kisses from a pair of pretty ladies, then shakes the hands of dignitaries. During the next day’s stage, he wears a special red-backgrounded race number that denotes his distinction.
So why is they don’t have a most combative award in the NHL? They have awards for being skilled in a multitude of ways, for being gentlemanly, for being defensive, for being dedicated, for being a humanitarian, a leader. But nothing for showing the most fighting spirit. And that’s really too bad.
The NHL Awards went off without incident – well, almost without incident – but let’s face it, in terms of entertainment value, the show teeters between polite applause and stunned bemusement. The awards also create more than their share of controversy, and not just in the expected and natural debate about winners and runners-up. And although the NHL Awards are in some ways better than they’ve been in past years, there’s still some work that needs done.
Here are four ways I’d make the NHL Awards better:
1. Full disclosure from vote-casters. As I argued yesterday, compared to the Hockey Hall of Fame Awards, the NHL Awards are a model of transparency. That said, the process could and should benefit from fully embracing transparency and revealing how members of the Professional Hockey Writers Association (myself included) voted.
This way, when fans are alarmed to see the voting results include someone casting a second-place Hart Trophy vote for Detroit’s Gustav Nyquist as someone did this year, they can turn to the voter in question and ask he or she to defend their rationale. We might not agree with the explanation, but at least we’d have one.
There’s little hockey writers loathe more than the anonymous cowards who dwell in the comments section, so I don’t know how any of us can continue justifying hiding behind anonymity during the time we cast our ballots.
2. More direct descriptions of awards. As noted above, you’re always going to have fans arguing over which player was most deserving of any award. However, there’s an increasing problem with the voting, and it’s all about subjective interpretation. For instance, for years, some voters have looked at the Hart Trophy in its strictest definition – the player adjudged to be most valuable to his team – and other voters (myself included) have come to see it as the league’s most outstanding player. (The short version why: because value is subjective, whereas “outstanding” allows for a wider breadth of candidates to be considered.)
Similarly, the Norris Trophy (won this year by Hawks blueliner Duncan Keith) has, more often than not in the past three years, gone to a player who was especially proficient at one end of the rink, and not nearly so effective in his own zone. That flies in the face of the description of the honor, which is to be given to the defenseman who possesses “the greatest all-around ability” at the position. That simply wasn’t true with either P.K. Subban or Erik Karlsson, yet they won the Norris in the two years prior to this past season. Something is wrong here.
The NHL Awards ceremony returned to Las Vegas Tuesday night. The show was it’s usual “meh” self, but was highlighted by Jabbawockeez and an over-the-top Cuba Gooding Jr.
(via Josh Gold-Smith)
Most of this year’s awards had obvious winners, but others were a little tougher to call. Who would win the Vezina and the Norris? Was Patrick Roy a shoe-in for the Jack Adams, even though his team relied so heavily on an otherworldly season from Semyon Varlamov? Here are the results of this year’s awards, including the final tabulations.
And don’t forget to check out THN’s in-house awards.
Ryan Getzlaf really had an excellent season, especially the first half. And if Sidney Crosby didn’t win the scoring race by 17 points this season, the MVP would surely have been Getzlaf’s. Read more
In our May 26 “Lists Issue”, we handed out our annual hardware, which differs from the NHL’s offerings that will be revealed tonight in Las Vegas. In case you missed it, here’s who we feel was this season’s best of the best:
Wayne Gretzky Award (MVP): Sidney Crosby
Usually, the Penguins rely on their supporting cast to step up when Crosby is hurt. It was the opposite in 2013-14. He played 80 of 82 games and did so at an elite level.
Runners up: 2. Claude Giroux; 3. Semyon Varlamov; 4. Ryan Getzlaf; 5. Ben Bishop
Mario Lemieux Award (Best Player): Sidney Crosby
A healthy Crosby is the best player of his generation and he didn’t disappoint in a full season, reaching 100 points for the fifth time and winning the scoring title by 17 points.
Runners up: 2. Ryan Getzlaf; 3. Claude Giroux; 4. Patrice Bergeron; 5. Corey Perry
Patrick Roy Award (Best Goalie): Tuukka Rask
Despite concerns about how he’d hold up over an 82-game schedule, all Rask did was finish in the league’s top-five in wins (36), goals-against average (2.04), save percentage (.930) and shutouts (seven).
Runners up: 2. Semyon Varlamov; 3. Ben Bishop; 4. Carey Price; 5. Sergei Bobrovsky Read more
When you watch the NHL Awards tonight, pay attention to one particular aspect: the voting process. It’s transparent – the league releases ballot results after each season’s awards have been presented – and the two candidates in each category who don’t win aren’t devastated or humiliated.
Now contrast that with the voting procedure that decides who will and won’t be inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame. That process makes a papal conclave look like a friendly show-of-hands vote between friends. Every year, the HHOF’s induction committee meets in secret to debate the pros and cons of each candidate – and every year, the public gets no explanation as to why particular choices were made.
Why? Well, the explanation usually goes, players who didn’t make the cut would be embarrassed and upset by being pointed to as unworthy of the honor. But if that’s the case, why does the NHL announce three finalists for each of its individual awards? Surely there’s a letdown for those who don’t win, yet somehow they’re able to soldier on in life.
In other words, this excuse is completely baseless. Read more
When Dean Lombardi was given the keys to the Los Angeles Kingdom in 2006, he inherited a team that had drafted Anze Kopitar and Jonathan Quick a year earlier. In retrospect, it was a little like being gifted a lottery ticket, one that wins the Powerball jackpot. While Kopitar was a first-rounder, he wasn’t a sure thing. Quick was a fifth-round project.
So why, then, are we anointing Lombardi The Hockey News executive of the year, when two of his key building blocks can’t be credited to him? And a third, Drew Doughty, was a no-brainer? Because the L.A. Kings are about so much more than their aristocracy. Read more
You can always tell when Patrick Roy wants his players to make a line change. No matter how deafeningly loud the building is, there is that ubiquitous whistle. Once they hear that shrill sound, Avalanche players scurry to the bench as though their paychecks are waiting there for them. He uses it in practice, too, prompting the kind of classical conditioning from his players Ivan Pavlov would envy.
Roy is the most engaged coach you’ll ever see during a practice. After he explains a drill, he turns to his charges and says, “Did everyone understand that?” And at the end of the workout, he insists on all of his players coming to center ice and forming a circle, putting their hands in the middle and chanting, “Team!” as they raise their hands in unison.
Seriously. Patrick Roy gets away with all of this. In the NHL. That kind of stuff might have gone over well in Quebec City, where he coached the Remparts for six seasons, but Roy is in the big leagues now. Someone should tell him NHL players can see through all that rah-rah crap and doing that is a good way to get fired.
But somehow Roy pulls it off. Stunningly well, we might add. THN’s choice for NHL coach of the year, Roy has gone where few Hall of Famers have gone before. History tells us superstar players, generally speaking, make lousy coaches. Rocket Richard lasted two games with Quebec in the World Hockey Association before quitting. Wayne Gretzky, Bernie Geoffrion and Doug Harvey were all sub .500 coaches in the NHL. Read more