Thursday, June 22, 2006

Live blogging the NHL awards

Ah, the NHL awards. My how they are ridiculed.

Someone in the media mentioned the other day how no other major league sport televises its awards presentations, but that to me makes hockey's annual awards gala that much more interesting. Yes, it's hokey and there are some bad musical performances thrown in (not that NHLers are into high-art when it comes to their tunes), but I still find the whole event (somewhat) entertaining.

At the very least, it's a chance to see players out of their element. It's also sort of a mediocre ending tacked onto the end of the Stanley Cup playoffs.

One last thing: This isn't really a live-blog, unless you're in Western Canada. My television package picks up CBC channels across the country, which means I can start watching the show whenever I wish. Tonight, we're going with CBC Calgary, which means things get underway at 10 p.m. EDT. Which is about three minutes from now.

So, if you know who won before I've typed it, you be quiet.

UPDATE So far, everything is making me uncomfortable. Alex Ovechkin trying to do an interview in English, players walking stiffly down a dumpy red carpet in rented tuxes, that 'comedian' from Vancouver... whew, compelling stuff.

UPDATE That kid with diabetes reading from cue cards: uncomfortable.

UPDATE Cue the first musical number. And hot damn Tom Cochrane looks frightening. Quick Google lookup for his age: 53. More fun facts? "He was born in Lynn Lake, Manitoba, to Violet and Tuck Cochrane, a bush pilot."

Hell, he might as well be a hockey player.

UPDATE Ron MacLean shows up and says, "Congratulations to the Edmonton Oilers," which sounds kind of odd considering he hadn't done so for the Cup winners yet.

LESTER B. PEARSON Wayne Gretzky hands out the Lester B. Pearson award, given to the most outstanding player as voted by the players. The award generally goes to the same guy who wins the Hart Trophy — but not always. Players tend to vote for who they find 'likeable,' which is why all-around good guy Markus Naslund won in 2004.

Jaromir Jagr wins — a surprise to me. Jagr's third win and it possibly sets him up to take the Hart. A pretty good acceptable speech from the old guy, who's not really known for being all that quoteable.

LADY BYNG It's really unfortunate only forwards win this thing. That's something that really has to change.

The 'gentlemanly conduct' award goes to Pavel Datsyuk, who isn't in attendance. Ho hum.

JACK ADAMS Marc Crawford and Ted Nolan, two guys who could win this thing next season, present the award for the best coach.

The Buffalo Sabres' Lindy Ruff is the well-deserved winner. After all the lean years in Buffalo, it's great to see that the Sabres management kept Ruff in the driver's seat, as it paid off big this year.

Nice acceptance speech by Ruff, who congratulates Laviolette and the Hurricanes despite the fact he'd been in quite a war of words with them in the Eastern Conference final.

VEZINA The top goaltender award is generally speaking one of the toughest ones to call, but not this year. Miikka Kiprusoff wins hands down, and I don't even have to see the results.

Kiprusoff came close in 2004, which is a little ridiculous considering he hadn't even played 40 games.

MASTERTON The award for dedication to hockey goes to Teemu Selanne, which means this year it's essentially going to the 'comeback player of the year.'

If that wasn't Selanne, I don't know who it was. (Other than Patrick Elias, but apparently returning from playing in Colorado is tougher than returning from death.)

MUSICAL INTERLUDE 54-40 adds just a little more Canadian kitsch.

UPDATE MacLean let's us know that January's Hockey Day in Canada will be in Nelson, B.C., a beautiful little city in the Kootenays.

KING CLANCY The award for community service goes to the Washington Capitals Olaf Kolzig, who has done extensive work with autism.

FRANK J. SELKE The defensive forward award should go to Rod Brind'Amour, hands down, for the amount of icetime he logged and how well he played at even strength, on the PP and PK.

And... it's Rod Brind'Amour. Amazingly, it's his first nomination.

JAMES NORRIS Jim Robson and Jim Hughson — two phenomenal play-by-play men from my homeland — present the award for the best defenceman (another award that should be a no-brainer).

The Detroit Red Wings Nicklas Lidstrom wins his fourth, and does so at age 36. Does that make him the oldest Norris winner?

(Doug Harvey actually won at age 37 back in 1962.)

CALDER Once again, another should-be no-brainer.

Alex Ovechkin gets up for a speech that should be, well, uncomfortable. Still, I should say that his English is miles better than it was at the beginning of the year (and his Russian sounds pretty good, too).

HART The big one. Mark Messier certainly makes a fitting presenter for this one (although doing so in Vancouver is somewhat unfortunate).

Joe Thornton wins, making it another split between the players' votes and this one. Jagr's only won the Hart once before, and you could (sort of) tell he wanted it badly this year. Which is good to see.

  • Five of six on the big awards, with only the extremely tight Jack Adams foolin' me.

  • First all-star team
    G Miikka Kiprusoff, Calgary Flames
    D Nicklas Lidstrom, Detroit Red Wings
    D Scott Niedermayer, Anaheim Ducks
    C Joe Thornton, San Jose Sharks
    RW Jaromir Jagr, New York Rangers
    LW Alexander Ovechkin, Washington Capitals

  • Second all-star team
    G Martin Brodeur, New Jersey Devils
    D Zdeno Chara, Ottawa Senators
    D Sergei Zubov, Dallas Stars
    C Eric Staal, Carolina Hurricanes
    RW Daniel Alfredsson, Ottawa Senators
    LW Dany Heatley, Ottawa Senators



At 1:42 a.m., June 23, 2006, Blogger jamestobrien said...

The Hart trophy race was so close, I think it's fitting that Jagr took the Pearson and Big Bird took the Hart.

The Rangers would have been a hobo's version of the Calgary Flames this year without Jagr's absurd offensive skills. He deserves recognition, especially considering the fact that a] he's been the hockey press's whipping boy many-a times and b] didn't get NEARLY enough credit for his peak years in Pittsburgh.

At 9:30 a.m., June 23, 2006, Blogger The Universal Cynic said...

The entire show was slightly less uncomfortable than the Christmas holidays at my mother-in-law's house. And 54-40? If you want true Canadian kitsch, book Trooper next time.

My favourite moment (aside from the Ovechkin speech), was the pre-show from the red carpet. The female host exclaimed, "This scene is electric!" Behind her -- dead silence. Classic.

Overall, none of the wins were really surprising (Jack Adams was mild, I suppose). What really shocked me was Rod Brind'Amour's brick red bow tie. Dude, you just won the Cup. Why are you dressed like a Bellagio valet?

P.S. Will Sasso's comedy qualifies as a murder defense.

At 10:26 a.m., June 23, 2006, Blogger Wardo said...

Does anybody else think that an audience of hockey players in rented suits looks like a mafia dinner party?

"I prefer the personal touch you only get with hired goons."

--Mr. Burns

At 5:30 p.m., June 24, 2006, Blogger Jim Dwyer said...


You didn't mention Will Sasso. He wasn't at his best, but he was funny (Universal Cynic's opinion aside).


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