Friday, June 19, 2009

Habs Shut Out At NHL Awards

Not surprising by any stretch of the imagination – The Canadiens "watched" last night's awards ceremony in the hockey hotbed of Las Vegas to come away with nothing. Astute members of the team would have been prepared, as trips out west rarely produce anything but heartache and highlights of opposing players celebrating over and over again.

It got me thinking about how far this Habs team is away. Last season was a close call as Carbonneau was nominated for the Jack Adams trophy, Carey Price 4th in Calder voting and earning an all-rookie team nod and Markov and Kovalev sniffing about the Norris and Hart trophies, respectively.

Well that mirage has passed and we're left with Markov and a team of third liners who were swept by their biggest rivals in an uncontested and largely unentertaining series. Not exactly the Canadiens of the 1970s who took temporary ownership of some awards.

If Columbus can have a surprise trophy winner and nearly a Vezina from a rookie, anything can happen, surely. But just where is our breakthrough likely to be?

To attempt to put some perspective on things, I have lined up the Canadiens candidate (selon moi) for each award next to the actual winner and nominees. Just for fun, I have also noted the player who would be nominated from our currently signed players:

Hart trophy:

Alexander Ovechkin (WAS)
Evgeni Malkin (PIT), Pavel Datsyuk (DET)
Andrei Markov (MTL) – has requisite Russian citizenship

Conn Smythe trophy:
Evgeni Malkin (PIT) – 36 playoff points and Stanley Cup
Saku Koivu (UFA) – 3 playoff points, 4 games, no wins
Yannick Weber (MTL) – 2 playoff points, 3 games, no wins

Art Ross trophy
Evgeni Malkin (PIT) – 113 points
Alexei Kovalev (UFA) – 65 points (57.5%)
Andrei Markov (MTL) – 64 points (56.6%)

Maurice Richard trophy:
Alexander Ovechkin (WAS) – 56 goals
Alexei Kovalev (UFA) – 26 goals (46.4%)
Andrei Kostitsyn (MTL) – 23 goals (41.1%)

Norris trophy:
Zdeno Chara (BOS)
Mike Green (WAS), Nicklas Lidstrom (DET)
Andrei Markov (MTL)

Vezina trophy:
Tim Thomas (BOS) – 2.10, 0.933, 5 SO
Steve Mason (CBJ), Niklas Backstrom (MIN)
Jaroslav Halak (MTL) – 2.86, 0.915, 1 SO

Selke trophy:

Pavel Datsyuk (DET)
Mike Richards (PHA), Ryan Kesler (VAN)
Maxim Lapierre (MTL)

Lady Byng trophy:
Pavel Datsyuk (DET)
Martin St Louis (TB), Zach Parise (NJ)
Chris Higgins (RFA)
Josh Gorges (MTL)

Calder trophy:
Steve Mason (CBJ)
Bobby Ryan (ANA), Kris Versteeg (CHI)
Matt D’Agostini (RFA)
Max Pacioretty (MTL)

Jack Adams trophy:
Claude Julien (BOS) – 53-19-10
Andy Murray (STL), Todd McLellan (SJ)
Guy Carbonneau (UFA) – 35-24-7
Bob Gainey (MTL) – 6-6-4

Bill Masterton trophy:

Steve Sullivan (NAS) – returned from 18 months of rehabbing
Richad Zednik (FLA), Chris Chelios (DET)
Patrice Brisebois (UFA) – Old and unbelievably hanging on to NHL employ
Glen Metropolit (MTL) – Nominated before for playing in Finland when no NHL team signed him

Foundation award:

Rick Nash (CBJ)
Alexei Kovalev (MTL), Dustin Brown (LA)
Alexei Kovalev (UFA) – actual nominee, hooray
Georges Laraque (MTL)

King Clancy trophy
Ethan Moreau (EDM)
Alexei Kovalev (UFA)
Georges Laraque (MTL)

Mark Messier trophy
Jarome Iginla (CGY)
Zdeno Chara (BOS), Sidney Crosby (PIT)
Saku Koivu (UFA)
Maxim Lapierre (MTL)

As you can see, our team was not stiffed. It just doesn't stack up to the quality of player around the NHL (with the exception of the excellent charity work, of course).

It was mostly pathetic attempts to win: see the Maurice Richard trophy, the Calder, Selke and the Vezina. The only way you see a Canadien in the running at all is if you consoder the season that Andrei Markov had – you'd have to think he's top 6 in Norris voting again.

Going into the future (next year, for example), it looks like Markov is our only shot at any silverware. Aside from the charity/leadership trophies (who would have guessed Moreau in a million years?).

Where do you think our best chance at a trophy will be for next June?

My top three would be:

  1. Jack Adams trophy (Jacques Martin) – a bad end to this season already puts him in the running
  2. Lifetime achievement award (Henri Richard) – one place we're stocked
  3. Lady Byng trophy (Georges Laraque) – a fighter who asks before fighting, how gentlemanly

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