They saved the best for last at the 2012 NHL Awards in Las Vegas on Wednesday, June 20. The best award for last, and the “best” presenter for last.
Vince Vaughn presented the winner of the Hart Trophy, which was one of the three awards Pittsburgh Penguins Evgeni Malkin took home. Vaughn is always attending Chicago Blackhawk games, and he is known in the hockey world as one of the celebrities that really loves the game. The Hart Trophy signifies the player who is judged to be the league MVP for the season. This was apparent when Sidney Crosby was still out and Malkin came in as a leader for the Pens, as “captain” figure and a scoring leader. Malkin also won the Art Ross Award for the most points scored in a single season with 109. This is his second Art Ross Award, his first being in 2008‐2009 season.
I was relieved when Henrik Lundqvist won the Vezina Trophy! I have been saying since November/December of 2011 that Hank should take home this award, and that the world is not right if he doesn’t win. I got confirmation last night that there is still hope in the world! The right man won, and that is something that doesn’t happen all the time.
The St. Louis Blues were well represented with award recipients last night. Starting with the Jack Adams Award for the best coach, which was given to Blues head coach Ken Hitchcock. The GM of the year title was given to Doug Armstrong of the Blues. Coming from the Columbus Blue Jackets, Hitchcock also coached for the Flyers and before that for the Dallas Stars, winning the Cup in 1999. The Blues, in the 2010‐2011 season, did not make the playoffs and finished the season with only 87 points. Under Hitchcock’s direction he has brought the team into the playoffs, where they lost in the second round, but, most importantly, they finished the season with 109 points, two points behind the Presidents Trophy winning Vancouver Canucks. Blues goalies Brian Elliot and Jaroslav Halak won the William M. Jennings award for the fewest goals against (minimum 25 games played).
Steven Stamkos of the Tampa Bay Lightning took home the Maurice “Rocket” Richard trophy being the top goal scorer of the regular season. This is Stamkos’ second Richard trophy, and this season he scored 60 goals. The only other player in NHL history to win this award with over 60 goals is Alexander Ovechkin of the Washington Capitals for his scoring in the 2007‐2008 season, with 65 pucks hitting the back of the net. Stamkos is in some great company. When you list the players who have won this award twice, there are only four including Stamkos; Pavel Bure, Jarome Iginla, and Alexander Ovechkin.
The cover of NHL 13 was released last night live on the NHL Awards. This has been a fan poll with over 26 million voters of who should represent the league as the cover athlete for the next edition of the EA Sports video game. The two finalists were Claude Giroux of the Philadelphia Flyers and Pekka Rinne, goaltender for the Nashville Predators. Winning by the smallest margin in the history of this cover athlete vote, less then one percent being the winning margin, was Giroux. They uncovered a larger then life picture of the cover, which will be released to fans all over the US come this September.
There is so much more to say about the awards, but it is time to look towards next season and the rapidly approaching NHL Draft!