Hall, Rinne take home hardware following 2018 NHL awards

Just two weeks after the Washington Capitals celebrated their first Stanley Cup championship in franchise history on the Golden Knights’ home ice, the NHL was back in town for the 2018 NHL Awards on June 20. The awards ceremony took place at Las Vegas’ Hard Rock Hotel & Casino. It was a night filled with familiar faces, first-time winners andemotional tributes.

The winners of the Maurice “Rocket” Richard Trophy for the league’s top goal scorer, the William M. Jennings Trophy for the goaltender that allowed the fewest goals, and the Art Ross Trophy for the league’s top point scorer were already established at the end of the regular season. Capitals captain Alexander Ovechkin took home his seventh Maurice Richard Trophy after leading the league with 49 goals.

This is the fourth trophy that he has won this season, team or individual, along with the Stanley Cup, the Prince of Wales Trophy as Eastern Conference champion and the Conn Smythe Trophy as the postseason’s most valuable player. Los Angeles Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick took home his second Jennings Trophy, after allowing a league-low 147 goals in 64 games. Edmonton Oilers captain Connor McDavid took home his second consecutive Art Ross Trophy, after leading the league with 108 points.

McDavid’s night was not done, as he won the first award handed out during the ceremony, the Ted Lindsay Award. The award is given to the most outstanding player in the NHL, as voted by members of the NHL Players’ Association. This is McDavid’s second consecutive Ted Lindsay Award, making the first player to win the award twice before the age of 22. McDavid, along with Wayne Gretzky and Mark Messier, are the only Oilers to win the award. Taylor Hall of the New Jersey Devils and Nathan Mackinnon of the Colorado Avalanche were the other two nominees.

Next up was the James Norris Memorial Trophy, awarded to the league’s best defenseman. The award was won by Tampa Bay Lightning’s Victor Hedman. Hedman became the third Swedish-born defenseman to win the award, joining Erik Karlsson of the Ottawa Senators and Nicklas Lidström of the Detroit Red Wings. This is Hedman’s first Norris Trophy, as he beat out fellow nominees and past winners, Drew Doughty of the Kings and P.K. Subban of the Nashville Predators.

The King Clancy Memorial Trophy was next on the list, as it is given to the player who best exemplifies leadership qualities on and off the ice and have made a noteworthy humanitarian contribution in their community. Twins Daniel and Henrik Sedin, who officially retired from the NHL at the end of the regular season, received the award.

They were drafted second and third overall in the 1999 NHL Draft and are the only sibling duo to each record 1,000 points. Henrik is the Vancouver Canucks’ all-time leader in games played, assists and points, while Daniel is the team’s all-time leader in goals.

Before the Calder Memorial Trophy — given to the league’s top rookie — was awarded, the victims of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in Parkland, Florida, were honored. The school’s hockey team, which won the state championship this year, expressed its gratitude toward the Florida Panthers and the rest of the NHL for their support. They also handed out the Calder Trophy, which was awarded to Mathew Barzal of the New York Islanders. Barzal led all rookies with 85 points, racking up 22 goals and 63 assists. He became the seventh rookie in NHL history with 20 or more goals and 60 or more assists and the fifth Islander to win the award, along with Denis Potvin, Bryan Trottier, Mike Bossy and Bryan Berard. Barzal beat out Brock Boeser of the Canucks and Clayton Keller of the Coyotes.

Up next was the Lady Byng Memorial Trophy, awarded to the player who best combines sportsmanship, gentlemanly conduct and ability. William Karlsson of the Vegas Golden Knights took it home. He had only 12 penalty minutes the entire season, the fewest among the league’s top 40 scorers. He also finished third in the league in goals with 43 and first in plus-minus rating, accumulating a plus-49 rating. Karlsson beat out Ryan O’Reilly of the Buffalo Sabres and Aleksander Barkov Jr. of the Panthers.

Things took another emotional turn when the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy was awarded to the player who best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey. Brian Boyle of the Devils received the award and was visibly emotional during his speech. Boyle was diagnosed with chronic myeloid leukemia during training camp and returned to the Devils’ lineup on Nov. 1. He was also New Jersey’s lone representative during the 2018 NHL All-Star Game.

The awards resumed with the presentation of the Frank J. Selke Trophy, awarded to the league’s top defensive forward. Kings forward Anze Kopitar took home the award, his second in the past three seasons. Kopitar led all forwards in total ice time this season and was third in the league in faceoff wins with 983 and total faceoffs with 1,816. Kopitar edged out four-time Selke winner Patrice Bergeron of the Boston Bruins and first-time finalist Sean Couturier of the Philadelphia Flyers.

The first non-player award was next, with the Jack Adams Award, given to the league’s best coach. In a nearly unanimous vote, Knights head coach Gerard Gallant won the award for the first time. He received 102 of 108 first-place votes. He led Vegas to the most successful inaugural season of any franchise in the four major North American professional sports leagues, highlighted by a Stanley Cup Final appearance and 11 Knights’ players notching career highs in points. Gallant, who was also a finalist for the award with the Panthers in 2015-2016, was given the award by first responders to the mass shooting on the Las Vegas Strip on Oct. 1.

Vegas was not done winning that night, as Knights defenseman Deryk Engelland won the Mark Messier Leadership Award, given to the player who exemplifies great leadership qualities to his team on and off the ice and plays a role in growing hockey in his community. Engelland, a Las Vegas resident, played a significant role in his team’s efforts in the wake of the Oct. 1 mass shooting. He has also worked with local firefighters to raise $40,000 for children who could not afford to play hockey.

Up next was the Vezina Trophy, awarded to the league’s top goaltender. Predators’ Pekka Rinne, who was nominated three previous times but did not win, finally took home this prestigious award. Rinne finished third in the league with 42 wins, two behind fellow finalists, Connor Hellebuyck of the Winnipeg Jets and Andrei Vasilevskiy of the Lightning. He also finished fifth in the NHL with a 2.31 goals-against-average and sixth in the NHL with a .927 save percentage. Rinne was a key factor in Nashville’s excellent regular season, which ended with a Presidents’ Trophy as the league’s best regular season team.

The Knights took home their fourth award of the night, as George McPhee was named general manager of the year. McPhee was previously nominated for this award in the 2009-2010 season with the Capitals, after building the team that won the Presidents’ Trophy.

The most emotional moment of the night took place during the inaugural presentation of the Willie O’Ree Community Hero Award, which recognizes the commitment of those improving lives and strengthening communities through hockey. Humboldt Broncos coach Darcy Haugan won the award. Haugan was among 16 people killed after the team bus crashed on its way to a Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League playoff game. The surviving members, along with Haugan’s wife, Christina Haugan, took the stage after a video tribute. Christina accepted the award in his honor.

Capping off the night was the Hart Memorial Trophy, awarded to the league’s most valuable player. Taylor Hall of the Devils won the award after leading the Devils back to the postseason for the first time since 2012. Hall, who is the first Devil to win the award, set career highs across the board with 39 goals, 54 assists and 93 points. He outscored the second-highest-scoring Devil, Nico Hischier, by an astonishing 41 points. Hall beat out fellow finalists Kopitar and Mackinnon for the award. It was also his first nomination for an NHL award of any kind.

Following the presentation of the Hart Trophy, all the players and Vegas first responders gathered on stage for a photo. With that, the 2018 NHL Awards and the 2017-2018 NHL season came to a close.

SportsFelix MalamudComment