Friday, June 13, 2008

NHL Awards Announced

Last night was the NHL awards ceremony. Here is who I would have voted for if I had an award ballot and here are my comments after the award nominees were announced. I don't know why the NHL doesn't better publicize the award voting results but after a bit of internet search I have found them (but not in the mainstream media). Here are the voting results for the major awards and here are the first and second team all star voting results. I cannot find voting results for the Lady Byng, Selke, Pearson or Masterton Awards. If you know of a source for them please let me know.

If I had an award ballot and had voted my conscience, I would have made minimal change to the results. On the awards that I can find voting results, I would not have changed any award nominees or their order. The most interesting thing I would have done is my Adams votes would have been the only votes cast for any of my three nominees. None of Jacques Lemaire, Ken Hitchcock or Ted Nolan received a single vote. I have long argued that the Adams Trophy is poorly decided. It is the award for the coach of the most improved team in practise. Nevertheless, I find it hard to explain the fact that nobody voted for Jacques Lemaire. His team won the Northwest Division. What more must he do to get even one Adams Trophy vote?

The award winners are as follows:

Masterton Trophy - Jason Blake Toronto Maple Leafs I halfheartedly called him the early season Masterton favorite when it was announced that he has cancer. It seems that you win this award if you get cancer. It doesn't matter if another player has something more serious that endangers his career in a more serious way. Blake has chronic myelogenous leukemia. While cancer is always serious, so far he has had it under control merely by taking a pill everyday. Blake did not even miss a single NHL game as a result of his cancer. I would have picked Owen Nolan who missed two years with a knee injury. Nolan was not even a nominee. Of the nominees, Fernando Pisani is a far better choice. He suffered from ulcerative colitis, which kept him out about half the season and had his playing career and his life in some jeopardy. Winning this award for having cancer, when it is less serious than the issues faced by a few other NHL players is wrong.

Adams Trophy - Bruce Boudreau Washington Capitals I do not like the way the hockey writers select the coach of the most improved team for this award. Even using that line of logic, I would think Jacques Lemaire deserved a vote. He didn't get any. Of the nominees I would have picked Guy Carbonneau, who finished a close second. He took his team to first place in the East Conference, which is a far greater achievement than winning the weak Southeast Division.

Vezina Trophy - Martin Brodeur New Jersey Devils The correct choice. I am surprised by how close Evgeni Nabokov came to winning. Nabokov may have led the NHL in wins (a strongly team dependent stat), but fell well short in the more player indepedent measures like saves percentage.

Norris Trophy - Nicklas Lidstrom Detroit Red Wings Again the correct choice. I don't understand why Lidstrom was not also a Hart Trophy nominee (I understand why he didn't win it though I disagree with it).

Calder Trophy - Patrick Kane Chicago Blackhawks I think Nicklas Backstrom was a better choice. Although Kane slightly outscored him, Backstrom showed he was the better hockey player. Defensively, Backstrom is far more reliable than Kane. Voters don't seem to consider defensive numbers.

Lady Byng Trophy - Pavel Datsyuk Detroit Red Wings This is the correct choice and Datsyuk's third win in a row.

Selke Trophy - Pavel Datsyuk Detroit Red Wings I am not surprised by his win but it is a poor choice. This award should be for a shutdown forward, as opposed to a forward who scores well and also plays good defense. I would have picked Patrick Sharp.

Hart Trophy - Alexander Ovechkin Washington Capitals Of the nominees, he is the best choice. Nevertheless, I supported Nicklas Lidstrom. The fact Lidstrom was not nominated is a big mistake. It is a case of voters looking only at offensive numbers.

Pearson Trophy - Alexander Ovechkin Washington Capitals This is the same award as the Hart Trophy, except it is voted on by the players. So the same comments as for the Hart Trophy apply.

First All Star Team - Evgeni Nabokov, Nicklas Lidstrom, Dion Phaneuf, Evgeni Malkin, Alexander Ovechkin, Jarome Iginla With the exception of Nabokov, I agree with these selections. It is interesting that the writers picked Nabokov as the best goalie in the NHL, when the general managers picked Brodeur. I think it shows the writers are far more superficial. They were impressed by Nabokov's win total, instead of digging into the harder to interpret but more meaningful goalie stats.

Second Team All Star - Martin Brodeur, Brian Campbell, Zdeno Chara, Joe Thornton, Alexei Kovalev, Henrik Zetterberg I would have selected Pavel Datsyuk over Thornton and Daniel Alfredsson over Kovalev. Roberto Luongo would have been my second team goalie selection, with Brodeur having made first team.

NOTE: The Selke and Lady Byng results are here. That just leaves the Pearson and Masterton unaccounted for.

1) We wouldn't disagree if Carbineau won the Adams. In fact the voting was quite close. However, the way in which Boudreau's team went from 30th overall when he took over on Thanksgiving, then played at a 108 point pace the rest of the way, earned him the award.
2) We also agree that LeMaire would have been much more deserving of votes than a guy like Babcock who took a very good team and did, well, very good.
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