Thoughts from the NHL Awards.



Well, dear readers, don’t blame me for the Penguins’ disappointing evening at the NHL Awards Show at The Palms Hotel Las Vegas on Thursday night. I had C SIDNEY CROSBY atop my Hart Trophy (MVP) ballot and C JORDAN STAAL atop my Selke Trophy (defensive forward) ballot.

A quick recap of the award voting as it pertained to your club’s players:

= HART TROPHY (voted on by PHWA)

1 – HENRIK SEDIN, Vancouver

894 points (46-34-27-19-4)

2 – ALEX OVECHKIN, Washington

834 points (40-35-22-22-13)

3 – Crosby

729 points (20-35-38-29-7)

= SELKE TROPHY (voted on by PHWA)

1 – PAVEL DATSYUK, Detroit

688 points (37-26-21-8-7)

2 – RYAN KESLER, Vancouver

655 points (36-26-15-10-8)

3 – Staal

528 points (24-17-21-19-7)

OK, so here are my thoughts:

  • Staal wasn’t going to win, not on his first nomination for the Selke. This is an award that guys have to wait for, and when they get it they don’t let it go. Look at Datsyuk, a three times consecutive winner.
  • Crosby was deserving of the Hart, which is the MVP. He bested his career goal mark by 12, nearly won the scoring title without the benefit of a top-third power play or elite winger. He recorded 32 points more than C EVGENI MALKIN, whose career-worst season didn’t exactly give the Penguins their usual 1-2 MegaPowers punch. Also, the Penguins finished with the East’s third-best point total in the year following two straight Cup Final appearances. Also, his faceoff percentage was among the NHL’s best. I really believe this was clear cut, and I’m starting to wonder what he’ll need to do in order to win a second Hart Trophy.
  • Players clearly believe Ovechkin is the NHL’s best player, as evident by his third straight win of the Lindsay, formerly the Lester B. Pearson. There is no other way to interpret his win.
  • By the way, he said not to be, but I was a bit taken aback by Staal sporting a walking boot on his right foot and using crutches to get around. He said he’s pushing doctors to get back to regular workouts, but they’re wisely not relenting on keeping him in recuperation mode. Remember when I reported the day after his right tendon was severed that Staal was expected to miss the remainder of the playoffs? He missed only two games, and everybody thought I was nuts. I may be, but I was also right at the time. GM RAY SHERO told me last week that he thought that day-after Staal would be done for the playoffs. “He missed, what, two games? And I don’t think he was happy about that.” What former Penguin GARY ROBERTS would do is stand in awe of the tough guy his apprentice has become.

= A recap of the scrum involving Crosby (readers can find video of my chats with him and Staal elsewhere on this site):

Q: Can you talk about Henrik Sedin?
A: Yeah, he had a great year.  Nobody knew what to expect.  I think everybody saw what he could do year after year, and this was really a big year for him.  He showed it consistently.  He was well deserving of it.  He was there for his team every night.

Q:  Are you disappointed not getting the (Lindsay) Award?
A: No, I don’t think disappointed.  I think when you have the opportunity, I think now I realize it doesn’t happen all the time.  So when you’re there, you have the opportunity and you love to be able to do it.  But at the end of the day, I don’t think you’re going to judge your season or change your opinion on things.  At the end of the day, we all play for the same thing and that is the Stanley Cup.

Having said that, I think I have a greater appreciation, now playing five years, you know that it’s not easy to win those things.  When you have a great season like he did, it’s rewarding to get it.

Q: Can you talk about winning the Mark Messier Leadership Award?
A: Yeah, I’ve met him a number of times previously.  I said it tonight, but he’s the guy you think of when you think of leadership and, on and off the ice, the type of person that he is.  It’s a real honor for him to select me for that award.  I really appreciated it.

That’s an area you’re never really going to stop learning, but being a young captain, that’s encouraging.

Q: Looking forward to next year?  Do you think it will recharge and invigorate you?
A: Yeah, I hope so.  Just thinking about it when we’ve had this time off, I don’t remember having a full summer to get ready for a season.  That’s exciting.  You can gain a lot over of the course of a summer.

For our team we had two previously long seasons before that, and another one this year with condensed schedules.  So I’m excited to see our team with some rest and hungry.

Q: Did you make any changes in your style of game that resulted in winning?
A: Yeah, I tried to shoot the puck more.  I think just trying to be less predictable.  That’s really always the biggest challenge is trying to keep guys guessing, and trying to develop other parts of your game that may not show point-wise, but eventually will help you offensively create things.

So you need some luck, too.  I think anybody will tell you that you need some balances, and I’ve gotten some of those balances and worked hard for them.

= That’s it, kids. I expect a busy next several days on the Penguins front. Keep reading, and thanks for doing so.

–ROSSI (in Las Vegas)