In case you missed it, the 2017 NHL Awards ceremony (aka the Connor McDavid show) was held in Las Vegas on Wednesday night. The event also included the expansion draft selections for the Las Vegas Golden Knights. The Golden Knights selected a good mix of young talent and veteran experience. I expect them to come in and immediately be competitive with the rest of the league, although they may not look very good doing so with those uniforms that were unveiled on Tuesday.
Now if you’re anything like me, you’re not a big fan of awards shows. They can be cheesy and gimmicky and typically just aren’t something I find enjoyable to watch. Grammies? Oscars? Teen Choice Awards? No thank you. But when you throw sports into the mix, I’m dumb enough to convince myself that it’s something exciting and different that I’d like to watch. With the corny jokes and bad skits though, it quickly became painfully obvious that this was just another awards show. Luckily for you, you won’t have sit through all of that again, because I’ve listed each of the award winners below.
NHL Foundation Player Award
Winner: Travis Hamonic
These first few awards were actually awarded on Tuesday night. We’re starting things off with the NHL Foundation Player Award, which goes to a player that applies the core values of hockey to enrich the lives of people in his community. This year’s winner was Travis Hamonic of the New York Islanders. Hamonic is recognized for the work he does with children dealing with the grief of losing a parent, something he himself dealt with as a young child. The award allows him to make a donation to the charity of his choice, and also helps him to bring more awareness to this cause.
King Clancy Trophy
Winner: Nick Foligno
Next up is the first of two awards for Blue Jackets captain Nick Foligno. The King Clancy trophy goes to the player who exemplifies leadership qualities on and off the ice and has made a significant humanitarian contribution to his community. Nick’s leadership qualities have been apparent on and off the ice, and he also made a $1 million donation to the children’s hospitals in Columbus and Boston that helped save his newborn daughter’s life when she was born with a congenital heart defect.
Mark Messier Leadership Award
Winner: Nick Foligno
The Mark Messier Leadership Award goes to the player who best exemplifies leadership qualities for his team, both on and off the ice. The winner is actually selected by Messier himself. As a completely unbiased fan of hockey*, it’s great to see a guy like Foligno receive recognition for his leadership ability. The captaincy void that was created in Columbus when Rick Nash was shipped off to New York lasted several years and Foligno was the perfect man to fill that void. His leadership is a big reason for the success the Blue Jackets saw this past year, although coaching played a large part in that as well (more on that later).
*Totally biased Blue Jackets fan
Maurice “Rocket” Richard Trophy
Winner: Sidney Crosby
These next three awards aren’t voted on or selected by any group or individual. Instead, they are awarded to the regular season leader in various statistical categories. First up is the Maurice “Rocket” Richard Trophy, which is awarded to the player that scores the most goals during the regular season. This year’s winner, with 44 goals on the year, was Sidney Crosby. This was Sid’s second time taking home this award. As an unbiased* observer, I’ll admit that I’m not a big Crosby fan, but I can’t deny the fact that he’s one of the best players in the league. That’s probably the only nice thing you’ll ever hear me say about Sid the Kid. I was glad to see that this was the only hardware he took home this year too (unless, you know, you count that Stanley Cup trophy…)
*Again, totally biased
William M. Jennings Trophy
Winner: Braden Holtby
This next trophy is awarded to the goaltender that allowed the fewest goals during the regular season (and played in at least 25 games). This year’s Jennings Trophy went to Braden Holtby, who only allowed 182 goals over the course of the season. Holtby had an excellent year, but was it enough to win the Vezina Trophy? We’ll find out in a little bit… (SPOILER ALERT: No.)
Art Ross Trophy
Winner: Connor McDavid
The Art Ross Trophy is awarded to the player with the highest point total in the regular season. This honor went to Connor McDavid this year, who amassed 100 total points this season. This is the first of several awards for Edmonton’s youngster this year.
Ted Lindsay Award
Winner: Connor McDavid
The Ted Lindsay Award is essentially the players’ MVP award. It goes to the most outstanding player during the regular season, as voted on by members of the of the NHL Players Association. While this certainly isn’t as well-regarded as the Hart Trophy, I would argue that it’s a greater honor because you’re being recognized as the best by your peers, instead of a bunch of nerds in the media. Either way, there’s no denying that the 20 year old McDavid is a special talent.
Winner: Patrice Bergeron
The Selke Trophy, aka the Patrice Bergeron Award, goes to the forward who best excels in the defensive aspects of the game. For my fellow video game nerds out there, this would be the Two Way Forward player class in EASHL that nobody ever picks. This is Bergeron’s fourth time winning the Selke in the past 6 years, tying Bob Gainey for the most ever.
Winner: Brent Burns
The Norris Trophy goes to the best defenseman (defenceman?) in the league. Or maybe it’s the best beard in the league? Or fewest teeth? I’m not sure which it is exactly but Brent Burns of the San Jose Sharks is the clearly deserving of the Norris Trophy regardless of what it’s for.
Winner: Auston Matthews
The Calder goes to the most outstanding rookie in the NHL. Shoutout to Blue Jackets defenseman Zach Werenski for making the top 3. I was hoping he could get some retroactive sympathy votes for completely breaking his face in the playoffs, but it’s no surprise that Auston Matthews was the winner here. I think everyone was expecting this for quite a while, and Matthews is certainly well deserving of the honor. He’s a great young player who should be exciting to watch as he continues to grow and develop in the NHL.
General Manager of the Year
Winner: David Poile
No surprise here that the GM of the year goes to Poile of the Predators. Nashville had a great year, falling just shy of the ultimate prize, the Stanley Cup. They have something special down in Nashville, and it became very apparent while watching the finals that this city clearly supports its team. The electric atmosphere at the arena and all of the fan support shows that Nashville is definitely 100%, without a doubt, a hockey city. Big props to them, their fans, and their GM.
Jack Adams Award
Winner: John Tortorella
Torts! Great to see Tortorella honored as the best coach in the league this year. He took over the reins in Columbus after Todd Richards was let go early on in the 2015-16 season, and the turnaround the team showed this past year had been tremendous. They fell one game shy of tying the longest winning streak in NHL history and finished with one of the best records in the league. Unfortunately that did not translate into post season success, but I’m confident that that will be coming soon under Tortorella.
Winner: Craig Anderson
No awards ceremony would be complete without tugging at the heart strings a little bit. Or as the kids say it these days, “hitting you right in the feels.” Craig Anderson was recognized for his perseverance this year, taking time off at different points this season to be with his wife, who was battling cancer, while still being productive in net for the Ottawa Senators. His wife, who is now cancer free, was in attendance with him at the show. It was a touching moment and it was tough not to get a little bit emotional seeing him accept this award (and don’t even get me started on the Bryan Bickell segment…)
Lady Byng Award
Winner: Johnny Gaudreau
Johnny Hockey took home the Lady Byng Trophy this year, which is awarded to players who exemplify sportsmanship and gentlemanly conduct over the course of the season. You know, nerd stuff. Reports are saying that immediately after accepting the award Gaudreau was stuffed into a locker by Brent Burns backstage.
Winner: Sergei Bobrovsky
This was probably one of the tightest award races this year, with Bobrovsky, Holtby and Minnesots Wild goalie Devan Dubnyk all taking turns as the “favorite” at different points during the season. Ultimately Dubnyk fell off at the end of the year, making way for Carey Price as the third finalist. The voters got it right though, giving the award to the Blue Jackets net-minder. This is Bob’s 2nd Vezina award, with hopefully many more to come.
Winner: Connor McDavid
The youngest captain in NHL history. Leading the league in points in just his second NHL season (and first full year). Recognized as the most outstanding player in the league at only 20 years of age. Probably the best Edmonton Oiler to ever play the game (just guessing here, someone check the facts and get back to me on that one). McDavid is a special talent and he certainly cleaned house this week at the NHL awards show. I have a feeling he has a lot of additional hardware in his future too. This is clearly the future face of the NHL, if he’s not there already.