“Bettman has only a marginal interest in the weaker teams. He only wants the NHL to make a bigger profit as a whole.” -- Dominik Hasek

June 15, 2007

The Avalanche Will Get Nothing And Like It

Last night the National Hockey League held their annual awards gala, handing out the hardware to the best players in the highest level of professional hockey. Among those nominated were Avalanche players Joe Sakic (Lady Byng Trophy for most sportsmanlike play) and Paul Stastny (Calder Trophy for best rookie).

Having won it previously in 2001 (along with a few other trophies), Sakic was the favorite by far for the Byng, despite having higher penalty minutes than the other two candidates, Pavel Datsyuk and Martin St. Louis. Stastny faced stiffer opposition from Russian phenom Evgeni Malkin, but some very compelling arguments had been made on behalf of Peter Stastny's sensational younger son---Paul was a dark horse, but a strong one.

But, consistent with the kind of season their team just suffered, both Stastny and Sakic went home empty-handed from the awards show.

Stastny finished second in the balloting to Malkin, who, having the benefit of playing on the same power play unit as the best offensive player in the entire league, racked up more points overall and that's really all the voters care about. Never mind Son Of Stastny's superb performance killing penalties (something Malkin did almost none of) as well as his record-setting 20-game points streak. None of that seemed to matter.

As for Sakic, his defeat at the hands of a dirty Dead Wings player was sadly predictable. With higher total penalty minutes, Sakic's widely respected styles of disciplined on-ice play and quiet leadership just couldn't seal the deal. In fact, he finished third in the voting, not only behind the winner Datsyuk, but also behind Martin St. Louis, who obviously benefited from a few pro-dwarf sympathy votes.

An appropriately fitting end to a similarly frustrating season for the entire Colorado team. Sigh.

The complete list of award winners can be found here.


Mike Thompson said...

I swear the voters aren't allowed to actually watch the games, only look at neat little columns and rows of statistics.

Datsuck and the artist formally known as Marty St. Louis beating out Joe? Highway robbery.

I figured the Calder would go that way cuz of the East Coast bias and the egg on the face of the league if this season's golden boy didn't come home with some hardware. I'll sleep fine at night knowing that Son of Statsny will likely have the better career and be better respected that Evgeni "Coattails" Malkin.

Dear Lord Stanley said...

I remember back in 2000 when Alex Tanguay was the second-highest scoring rookie in the league behind Scott Gomez, but Tangs wasn't even nominated for the Calder. The runner up was Brad Stuart, who only scored 36 points---15 fewer than Alex.

The reason? Tanguay played on too talented a team and therefore had an unfair advantage over the other rookies. At least, that's the only excuse I ever heard.

So I guess the voters tried to redeem themselves for their Tanguay screw-up and give the Calder to a rookie spoiled by outstanding teammates.

ColBerdan said...

"As for Sakic, his defeat at the hands of a dirty [Red] Wings player was sadly predictable."

Detroit getting the best of Colorado has kind of been The Way of Things since 2002, no? :)

Malkin deserved to win though the points in Statsny's favor are very legitimate and had he won it wouldn't have been a grave injustice. What is confusing is the nomination of Jordan Staal over other guys like LA's Kopitar. It almost seems like the media felt guilty for not crowning Crosby last year so to make up for it they nominated two Penguins.

Dear Lord Stanley said...

Well, Staal did score 29 goals, a lot of which were short-handed, which is never easy to do. But, then again, he had guys like Crosby and Malkin (and Gonchar) feeding him the puck, so it's not that hard, really.

Kopitar plays on a rock-bottom team, though, and still was able to shine offensively. I agree that he should have been nominated over Staal.

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