With the regular season over and done, NHL Closer writer Greg Wyshynski hands out the hockey hardware — officially and unofficially.
The regular season has ended, and we have no problem intermingling fake awards (like an LA Kings Stanley Cup...uh-huh) with the real trophies because the NHL feels the need to do the same thing. Last year saw the dawn of the "Mark Messier Leadership Award," a monthly tribute that "honors an individual who leads by positive example through on-ice performance, motivation of team members and a dedication to community activities and charitable causes." Chris Chelios of the Red Wings won the first award, and then...nothing. Couldn't find any reference to the award being given out this season, and it isn't listed on the NHL's trophy page.
Maybe no one gave a shit, or maybe the sponsor pulled out, or maybe they're still giving them out but no one's noticed. If it's done, good riddance: It was a silly award. And it looked like a deck of cards when Messier gave it to Crosby. If you're going to do a Mark Messier award, do it right: How about an Academy Award wearing a washcloth and holding a beer, sitting next to Arnold Jackson? Or a bronzed statue of Madonna's mouth?
Here's how we'd give out the NHL's awards this season ... the real ones and the ones we made up.
The Mark Messier Leadership Award: Ryan Kesler, Vancouver. Because he served as a positive example to his teammates, showing them that putting Chris Pronger in a scissor-hold would activate his Cylon programming and make him attempt to slice another player's leg off with his skate. And because the idea of a Canuck winning the Mark Messier Leadership Award makes us giggle.
The Hart Trophy: We're glad the Capitals made the playoff cut so there's no debate about Ovechkin winning the MVP. But just to be clear: There are only 17 teams every season that matter; the 16 in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, and the one that wins the draft lottery. Everyone else doesn't matter, and you can't be the most valuable thing about something with no value. If you don't believe the playoffs should determine the Hart Trophy, ask yourself this: Would this award be Malkin's right now if the Capitals had been 12 points out a playoff spot with two weeks to go? Yupper...
The Selke Trophy: Given to the top defensive forward in the NHL. If the Campbell Conference coaches say Henrik Zetterberg, then so do we.
The Ted Leonsis Golden Keyboard: A fake award given annually to the hockey blog of the year, this season's title is The Pensblog's to lose. You'll never witness a more addictive mix of hockey analysis, Photoshop insanity, latent homophobia, cult-like fanaticism and unwavering loyalty to the home team. It's something I wish I could write...but there's something about banging on a laptop at 4 in the morning while taking hits of Meth and watching "Super Mario's Greatest Goals, Vol. 7" that seems a tad unhealthy to me.
The Jack Adams Award: We made the case for both Barry Trotz of Nashville and Bruce Boudreau of the Capitals on FanHouse, and either of them would be a swell choice for coach of the year. Not only for leading seemingly moribund teams to the postseason, but because they can store their eyeballs and other accessories in a compartment inside of their own asses:
The Calder Trophy: Sigh, not another Capital...Nicklas Backstrom had 69 points and 14 goals this season, the majority of them actually scored for his own team. But the rookie of the year will be Patrick Kane of the Chicago Blackhawks, not only for admitting that he cried during "The Pursuit of Happyness" but for helping to rescue the franchise from Old Man Wirtz's mummy curse.
The Jiri Tlusty Scepter: Given to the player most likely to be caught high-sticking on a Web cam in the near future, this year's award goes to Dion Phaneuf of the Calgary Flames. Not only because dim-blub seems like the kind of guy who might upload a nude photo as his profile picture on Facebook, but because alleged g/f Elisha Cuthbert might be reaching the "stolen sex tape" portion of her young career. Which brings us to...
The Cock-Tease Citation: While the Edmonton Oilers' remarkable return from oblivion and injury-plagued hell was inspirational, this is Toronto's award to lose; if only for the Maple Leafs convincing their fans, even for a moment, that management's inability to trade any of their veterans at the deadline could lead to something magical and inspiring. Instead, it led to bitter disappointment and a 90-foot goal by an Islanders defenseman. Oops.
The Norris Trophy: Lidstrom yawn next.
The King Clancy Memorial Trophy: I'm not sure what this one's for, other than the fact Saku Koivu won it last season. Let's give it to Mikko Koivu of the Wild to save on postage.
The Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy: The de facto "comeback player of the year" award can only go to one player this season, and Ty Conklin be thy name. Seriously, the notion of ConkBlock erasing his name from the archives of playoff punchlines in the same calendar year that Bill Buckner returns to Fenway Park has us moderately concerned that the apocalypse is neigh.
The Vezina Trophy: Marty Brodeur, New Jersey Devils, because he's restricted to the goalie ghetto award while position players win the Hart.
And finally, the award everyone has been waiting for...
The Lady Byng Memorial Trophy, For The Player who Displays Gentlemanly Conduct: Surprisingly, not a fake award. As you all might remember, Pavel Datsyuk won this hotly contested title last season, which I'm sure went a long way in his trying to shake that "Euro wussy" tag. But I believe I have this year's winner, although his time in the League this season was rather limited: Marc Denis of the Tampa Bay Lightning, who gave up 28 goals in 10 games this season. There's really nothing more gentlemanly than stepping out of the way to give an old friend's slap shot a free ride to the twine.
If we missed any...just make them up for us.