The last game of the 2011‐2012 NHL Season was played Monday night in Los Angeles at the Staples Center, where the LA Kings raised the cup on home ice in celebration of their first Championship in franchise history. Seeing as they have been an NHL team since 1967, it has been a long road traveled to finally be champs in 2012.
The month of June is always a busy one for the National Hockey League. After the conclusion of the season, the NHL Awards are held to honor players and coaches who have exemplified outstanding qualities during the past season. Hockey fans everywhere, myself included, have been thinking, talking, and analyzing who would be finalist for each award (there are three named for each) all season long. The award finalists are named early on in the playoff run, so decisions are made based on the regular season play.
New York Rangers own Henrik Lundqvist is nominated for three awards. The first award is the Hart Memorial Trophy, which is given to the player who is believed to be the most valuable to his team. It is refreshing to see a goaltender be noticed for such outstanding play. Evgeni Malkin for the Pittsburgh Penguins is nominated for this award as well as he took over a leadership and scoring role for his team in the absence of their concussed captain Sidney Crosby. Steven Stamkos from the Tampa Bay Lighting rounds out the votes for the Hart as an obvious asset to his team as the top goal scorer in the league, being the only player in the 60 goal club this season, scoring 60 goals even.
Lundqvist is also nominated for the Vezina Trophy, a goaltender award given to the player who is best at this position. It is in memory of Georges Vezina, who played for the Montreal Canadians, but collapsed on the ice, and later passed away during the 1925 season. The other finalists are Pekka Rinne of the Nashville Predators, and Jonathan Quick of the Los Angeles Kings. Quick won the Conn Smythe Trophy as the MVP of the 2012 playoffs, and only time will tell if he gains the Vezina as well. As a hockey fan, all season I have been saying if Lundqvist doesn’t win the Vezina, the world is not right. This is even before the finalists were named. He was a wall for his team, the king of NY, and one of the main underlying reasons why the New York Rangers had so much regular season success.
We will find out June 20, as the NHL awards are held live in Vegas at the Wynn. Lundqvist is also nominated for the Ted Lindsay Award that is recognizing the most outstanding player as voted by the NHLPA. His fellow nominees are the same as the finalists for the Hart Trophy.
Matt Moulson of the NY Islanders has been named as a finalist for the Lady Byng Trophy, which is given to the player who demonstrates sportsmanship and gentlemanly conduct coupled with outstanding ability on the ice. Moulson is also nominated for the NHL Foundation award. This is given to the player who “applies to the core values of ice hockey—commitment, perseverance, and teamwork.” Moulson had a stellar season with the Islanders and made sure he participated in the team charity events, as well as hosting a recent veteran and their family at each home game.
John Tortorella, Rangers head coach, is nominated for the Jack Adams award, given to the coach who has contributed the most to his teams’ success. The members of the National Hockey League Broadcasters’ Association choose this award. Ken Hitchcock from the St. Louis Blues, and Paul McLean of the Ottawa Senators are up against Torts.
Captain Ryan Callahan of the New York Rangers has been nominated for the Messier Leadership Award given to the player judged to have great leadership qualities for his team, on and off the ice. He is up against Stanley Cup winning captain Dustin Brown, and Shane Doan from the Phoenix Coyotes. Let’s just say Captain Cally is in some great company.
The New Jersey Devils do not have any players or coaches nominated for awards this season, but the NY Metro area is well represented with players from the Rangers and Islanders.
After the NHL Awards comes the NHL draft at the Consol Energy Center in Pittsburgh, June 22‐23. Now, that is a whole other story on its own…