As Leahy pointed out in last night's outstanding NHL Awards recap, Boston Bruins defenseman Zdeno Chara deserved the Norris Trophy; but that didn't stop his victory from being a bit of a surprise -- if a refreshing one.
What a novel idea: Chara won the award for best defenseman for his defense. Sure, he still needed a 50-point season to round out his numbers and solidify his candidacy; but the voters clearly believed that (a) he was due to win the honor and (b) the Boston Bruins' regular season machine was so impressive that its best defenseman, starting goalie and head coach all deserved to be recognized for their defensive stonewalling.
I thought Green would skate away with the award for two reasons:
1. Because he grabbed so many headlines during the regular season as a revelatory offensive defenseman.
2. And because that offense would, I imagined, outweigh the knocks on his defense.
Evidently, they didn't, as a player who led all defensemen with a startling 31 goals and 73 points placed second in the voting behind a man-mountain from Boston.
Here's the Norris:
Not a razor-thin margin, but close nonetheless between Green and Chara. Good to see players like Mark Streit of the New York Islanders get some support. Although the voters who put Dion Phaneuf's name in the running must have been watching DVDs from last season.
OK, who's the Detroit (or New Jersey) writer who gave Brian Rafalski a first-place vote?
Third time was the charm for Zdeno Chara.
Here's one of Pavel Datsyuk's wins, for the Selke. It's an eye-opener:
At our party last night (and thanks to those who attended), JP picked Mike Richards of the Philadelphia Flyers to win this award as the presenters were at the podium, and his Spidey sense was partially correct. Richards earned more first-place votes, while Datsyuk had stronger overall support.
The Professional Hockey Writers' Association votes on this one, and EJ Hradek made the point on NHL Live yesterday that it's difficult to take the nuance of defensive play into account when a writer doesn't see every player on a consistent basis. So this was probably a reputation-based win for the Detroit Red Wings star.
Here's Datsyuk and the Byng:
We'd love if Sports Illustrated, in its next players poll, asks whether Phil Kessel is the ninth most gentlemanly player in the NHL.
We'd also love if they'd stop giving out the Lady Byng.
Here's the Vezina:
Again, Steve Mason's season was impressive enough to the voters that he received some love in multiple categories
Here's the Jack Adams:
This one is a fascinating award, voted on by the National Hockey League Broadcasters Association. The top three were good -- although we would have swapped out McLellan of the San Jose Sharks -- but the choices beyond them are certainly interesting.
Brent Sutter's guidance of the Brodeur-less Devils to a division title ranks behind Ken Hitchcock's getting the Columbus Blue Jackets into the playoffs for the first time? Dan Bylsma getting some love despite the small sample size?
Mike Babcock's continued success in Detroit apparently impresses not one NHL broadcaster on an annual basis.
If Andy Murray was worthy of consideration, why didn't Ken Hitchcock get similar love?
Despite only coaching 25 games in the regular season, Dan Bylsma was given two third place votes.
Here's the Calder:
OK, will the Boston Bruins homer who gave Blake Wheeler a first-place vote please stand up?
Was the 2008-09 rookie class not particularly deep if, despite not playing since December 18, Derick Brassard grabs a fifth-place vote?
Finally, the Hart:
Great to see the voter support for Steve Mason and Zach Parise, who personified what this award is supposed to mean. But so did Alexander Ovechkin, who left the Palms with the dual MVPs and rightfully so. As we said during the season, there was a moment when it appeared the tide might be turning on Ovechkin and that Evgeni Malkin of the Pittsburgh Penguins might snag the trophy. But Ovie found his stride again in the end, and there's no question he deserved the Hart.
Malkin will get his one day.
Steve Mason finishing fourth is a testament to the kind of season he had in Columbus and how much he meant to the Blue Jackets in their run to the Stanley Cup playoffs.
The runaway choice, Alex Ovechkin is the first repeat winner since Dominik Hasek did it while with Buffalo in 1997.
Chris Mason, yes Chris Mason, was in some writer’s top four for the League’s Most Valuable Player.
One last thought: Finishing sixth in the Hart voting and not being up for any major award, is it fair to give The Kid this shot as Eric Duhatschek did in the lede of his Globe & Mail story?
Sidney Crosby, the face of the new NHL, didn't turn up last night for its signature event.
So it was left to his Pittsburgh Penguins teammate Evgeni Malkin to applaud politely as Alexander Ovechkin won his second consecutive Hart Memorial Trophy as the NHL's most valuable player at the league's annual awards ceremony, held in Las Vegas for the first time.
Did Crosby need to be in Vegas as "the face of the new NHL?"