Jun 222011

For anyone still questioning the Sedins, I recommend you read Ed Willes’ piece (Vancouver Province). Daniel, of course, has already won the Art Ross Trophy for leading the NHL in scoring in the regular season. But also:

But the Hart isn’t the only hardware Sedin is up for today. He and his twin brother – and what does it say about the Sedins that they’re listed as an entry- are up for something called the NHL Foundation Player of the Year Award.

Now, the Foundation Award is not one of the most coveted trophies in the NHL. Truth be told, it’s only been presented for the last 12 years and if this was the Oscars, it would be one of those awards they announced before the ceremony.

But it’s a funny thing. When asked which trophy means more, Daniel answered, “Obviously, it’s the Foundation Award.”

For all their successes – and the team’s – this season, Hank and Dank took a lot of abuse from fans and the media. They’ve been called the sisters and labeled as chokers. They’ve been nicknamed Thelma and Louise. They’ve been called a pair of Raggedy Anns and inept leaders.

This despite both of them leading the NHL in scoring in back-to-back years, despite Henrik winning the Hart and Daniel being nominated this year for it, despite finishing second and third in playoff scoring often against elite defensive pairing, and despite getting the Canucks to within one win of their first-ever Stanley Cup.

It’s obvious they don’t garner the same amount of respect as some of the league’s other superstars.

How many of the league’s superstars get called for a 10-minute misconduct for taking 6 punches to the head after the whistle? But I digress.

Criticism isn’t new to the Sedins – they’ve faced a lot, especially from Canucks fans, since they played their first game in a Canucks jersey 10 years ago. To their credit, they’ve usually risen above it, and when they haven’t, they’ve never shied from taking responsibility for it.

It was also easy to single out the Sedins for their lack of production during the Stanley Cup final and, predictably, they haven’t tried to shift the responsibility. As Vigneault said on Tuesday: “You look at the twins and what they said, ‘We’re paid to score and we didn’t score.’”

“That’s accountability and that’s what you want as a coach.”

Here’s more from Elliotte Friedman (CBC):

Considering the level of disappointment the Vancouver organization had with the refereeing in the Stanley Cup Final, the Sedins showed an unbelievable amount of class by skating over to the officials after the handshakes and thanking them. According to one source, their comments were along the lines of, “We know that a lot gets said. This is an emotional time and you shouldn’t take all of it personally.” And, if anyone thinks that makes them soft, the two Flyers who did the same thing last year were Mike Richards and Chris Pronger.

Through the good and the bad, and on the ice and off it, the Sedins understand their responsibilities as hockey players and as role models in a hockey-mad city such as Vancouver. And not only do they understand these responsibilities, they embrace them.

Which brings me back to the Foundation Award.

The Foundation Award, just so you know, is presented to players for their charitable work. Daniel and Henrik are in the process of donating $1.5 million to the B.C. Childrens’ Hospital. They’re also involved in a myriad of other charitable endeavours.

Given the amount of flak they’ve taken, it would have been easy for the Sedins to simply play the game, collect their paycheques, and not give two hoots about anything else. But that’s not the kind of people they are.

For all this, some call them inept leaders. I call them special players.

Jun 212011
Henrik Sedin, Vancouver Canucks

Photo credit: canucks.nhl.com

The NHL Awards are like any other awards show on North American TV. Like the Oscars, Grammys, Emmys, even the Espys, there’s someone who should win and there’s someone who will win. Now, I’m no fortune teller, but here’s my take on who should win the hardware, and who will win it in reality.

Hart Memorial Trophy – Most Valuable Player

NOMINEES: Corey Perry, Daniel Sedin, Martin St. Louis

Who should/will win – Daniel Sedin: Daniel Sedin was the most consistent player from start to finish. Behind closed doors, Daniel would love nothing more than to give his brother Henrik the proverbial “eff you” by winning a Hart and Art Ross trophy of his own; that alone shows that Daniel was bound and determined to be the team MVP this season. And people who say Daniel was buoyed by skilled linemates can make the same argument for Perry (Ryan Getzlaf and Bobby Ryan) and St. Louis (Steven Stamkos). Come on, it’s a no brainer here. To be honest I’m still not sure why Tim Thomas isn’t one of the final three, because that’s the only other player I’d consider giving the Hart to.

Vezina Trophy – Best Goaltender

NOMINEES: Roberto Luongo, Pekka Rinne, Tim Thomas

Who should/will win – Tim Thomas: Hard to believe that Boston GM Peter Chiarelli was at this time last year calling up Paul Holmgren in Philadelphia and George McPhee in Washington almost begging both executives to take the NHL’s most expensive backup ($5-million a season) off his hands for whatever he could get back. Thomas roared back onto the big stage and after winning the Conn Smythe should add another Vezina to his trophy case.

James Norris Memorial Trophy – Best Defenseman

NOMINEES: Zdeno Chara, Nick Lidstrom, Shea Weber

Who should win – Shea Weber: There are few defensemen like Shea Weber. He’s big, he’s bad, and he grows one heckuva playoff beard. While mobility certainly isn’t his strong suit, he came into his own this year by shutting down the opposition almost to a tee while putting up his fourth 40+ point season. The scary thing is most people think he’s going to get even better.

Who will win – Nick Lidstrom: He’s immortal. He can’t die. He won’t die, it seems. Lidstrom will be back next season with Detroit, and why shouldn’t he be? He put up 62 points at the age of 41, which is the most of any defenseman his age in history. Lidstrom was second among blueliners in scoring, but the fact his plus-minus isn’t what it normally is (minus-2), I feel Weber was more deserving of the Norris.

Calder Memorial Trophy – Rookie of the Year

NOMINEES: Logan Couture, Michael Grabner, Jeff Skinner

Who should win – Jeff Skinner: Skinner’s accomplishments this season make me feel insignificant. Imagine going straight from the OHL to a fixture on your NHL team’s first powerplay unit, because that’s exactly what Skinner did. The rookie potted 31 goals, three less than Michael Grabner’s 34.

Who will win – Logan Couture: The funny thing with the NHL’s Calder award is that they tend to give it to the player with the best stat line, which in this case is Couture, despite the fact he played for San Jose in last year’s playoffs and was barely eligible to win the award this year. This isn’t a condemnation of Couture, but Skinner made a bigger impact at a much younger age than the other two nominees.

Lady Byng Memorial Trophy: Most Gentlemanly Player

NOMINEES: Loui Eriksson, Nicklas Lidstrom, Martin St. Louis

Who should/will win – Take your pick, really: All three are genuinely kind NHL players; Eriksson had 8 penalty minutes, Lidstrom had 20, and St. Louis had 12. All three play competitively and with a bit of an edge. My money’s on St. Louis, just because he’s won this award before.

Selke Trophy – Best defensive forward

NOMINEES: Pavel Datsyuk, Ryan Kesler, Jonathan Toews

Who should/will win – Ryan Kesler: It’s time. Kesler worked his tail off all season, keeping in tune with his defensive abilities while chalking up 40 goals to his name. That’s no accident. Ryan Kesler is the NHL’s best two-way forward and the model for success at both ends of the rink. This could be the first of many.

Jack Adams Award – Best Coach

NOMINEES: Barry Trotz, Dan Bylsma, Alain Vigneault

Who should win – Dan Bylsma: Any time a coach (let alone one in his third year) can get his team into the playoffs despite missing both Sidney Crosby AND Evgeni Malkin, you’ve earned my eternal respect. Bylsma’s team got better without the two, and nearly forged their way into the second round before dropping game seven to Tampa Bay.

Who will win – Barry Trotz: This is a long overdue award. Trotz could easily be a perennial Jack Adams winner by now; his team has zero superstars, yet is competitive year in and year out. He builds his team around solid goaltending and defense. If he had a superstar forward, he’d have won a couple of these.

Bill Masterton Award – Perseverance

NOMINEES: Ray Emery, Daymond Langkow, Ian Laperriere

Who should/will win – Ray Emery: I like all three players because they’ve come back from injury, but Emery’s career was this close to ending, and only experimental surgery salvaged it. Not only that, he went from playing for Syracuse in the AHL to some postseason action with Anaheim this spring. Now that’s a great story.

Ted Lindsay Award – MVP voted by players

NOMINEES: Corey Perry, Daniel Sedin, Steven Stamkos

Who should/will win – Steven Stamkos: I think most NHL players have grasped that what Steven Stamkos did this season is phenomenal. With all due respect to Perry and Sedin, Stamkos scored 91 points while still being only a kid, and he did it under a new coach. Stamkos took Tampa Bay and carried them on his back many times; his ability to come back after nearly getting his nose blown off in game seven versus Boston is an indication of his integrity and heart.

Bridgestone Messier Leadership Award – Best Leader

Who should/will win – Shane Doan: Doan is the quintessential leader by example; even though his Phoenix team was subject to relocation rumours all season, he kept his team afloat in the locker room and got them to the postseason for the second straight year. A leader is someone who can block out all the negative media attention and continue being a presence on his team, which is exactly what Doan did this season.

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