I hope nobody was expecting actual predictions or analysis of the NHL Awards show. If you did, clearly you missed the purpose of this blog. The truth is, I've never really cared all that much about them. While I'm sure they're fun to win, they're not really the trophies I'm after, and I think most of the players would agree with me. That being said, the thought that Mike Green is probably going to be taking home Nick Lidstrom's trophy makes me gag a little. I'm pretty sure they should re-open voting for the Norris just to take into consideration the testicle incident. (Once again, I find myself discussing this. I really did not anticipate ever having Lidstrom's genitalia as a conversation topic in my life.) The Unofficial Awards are a tradition started in 2002. They're very much Red Wing-centric, and I refuse to apologize for this. Also, a lot of the awards were stolen from my high school yearbook. You've been warned.
So, without further ado, I bring you the 7th annual Unofficial NHL Awards...
The Class Couple Award goes to...Gary Bettman and Sidney Crosby. Previous winners include Gary Bettman and Sidney Crosby. In fact, it should really be re-named after them, what with all of the discussion of renaming the real NHL awards to honor more modern players. It's fairly obvious why the commish and his Little Buddy won, so I won't go into depth.
Runners up: Tyler Kennedy and his stick, and my brother and Johan Franzen.
The Hatfield-McCoy Enemies Award goes to Mike Ilitch and Gary Bettman. Kudos to Mr. Ilitch for snubbing Bettman the same way the commish's Little Buddy snubbed Lidstrom. It's nice to see that at least one NHL owner has the guts to stand up to Bettman.
Runners up: Crosby and Ovechkin--this one isn't going away anytime soon, and me and Brad Watson.
Most Likely to Start a Revolution: Alex Ovechkin. Because, seriously, would you dream of giving this award to anyone else? Also, during my freshman year of high school, there was actually a crazy Russian kid who won this award. So there's some historical basis for my selection. Like his celebrations or not, his kind of personality is exactly what the NHL needs. Whether he's trying (and scoring on) absurd plays that nobody else would even attempt, pissing off Don Cherry, or stealing golf karts and almost decapitating himself, he is without question, the NHL's resident lunatic.
Runners up: Sean Avery and T.J. Oshie, mostly because I couldn't think of anyone else.
The Invisibility Cloak Award goes to Henrik Zetterberg for rendering Sidney Crosby absolutely useless for the second consecutive Finals. Crosby is going to be having nightmares about Hank shadowing his every move for the rest of the summer. Every time he sets foot near the Stanley Cup, he's going to be glancing over his shoulder just to make sure Z and his beard aren't there to take it away from him.
Runners up: Nick Lidstrom because he pretty much does that to anyone he faces, and Colin Campbell for shrouding the NHL's disciplinary process in a cloud of mystery.
The Golden Pretzel Award for Epic Choking goes to the San Jose Sharks. Remember when we thought they were going to be the Wings' biggest obstacle to repeating as champs? Yeah, neither do I. It was that long ago. I'm almost ashamed to admit that I was rooting for Anaheim to upset them, just so I could laugh. It was probably the only time I've ever wanted the Ducks to win a hockey game that didn't involve Charlie Conway.
Runners up: Marty Brodeur in the last 1:20 of Game 7 against Carolina and the Wings for failing to rise to the occasion during either of their two chances to clinch the Stanley Cup.
The Brainiac Award goes to the Wings' very own Ken Holland. I can't help but think that if he had gone into scientific research instead of hockey, cancer would've been cured, I'd have a flying car, and robots would run the Taco Bell drive through so my order would be made correctly.
Runners up: Mike Babcock and Rocky Wirtz.
The List Award (as in, "You're on my list.") is presented to the Freep's very own Drew Sharp. There's something utterly condescending in his tone when he writes about the Wings (and possibly anything else. I wouldn't know. The only time I bother to read his work is when it involves hockey.). You get the feeling that he really doesn't like hockey at all. Sometimes I'm sure he wants the Wings to lose. Like when he wrote this article. To be fair though, there were a lot of qualified candidates who could've won this award, and it was a pretty tough choice.
Runners up: PYG, Gary Bettman, Sidney Crosby, and the writers of the Pens Blog.
Mr. Invisible goes to Marian Hossa for completely disappearing in the Finals (and all but the preceding Game 4s). I was waiting to pass judgment on him because I had been saying that he looked injured since early on in the playoffs, but he claims to be healthy and thus lacks an excuse for his lousy production. You'd think that a guy on the verge of being an NHL punch-line for the rest of his career would've been able to muster a bit more of an effort when he was within reach of both the Stanley Cup and complete validation for his decision.
Runners up: Jiri Hudler because for the life of me, I don't remember seeing him on the ice at all during the last two rounds. The only reason he didn't win the award was because Hossa had much higher stakes. I almost went with Crosby for the second runner up, but I figured I pick on him enough, so I'll go with Patrick Kane. Aside from that time Franzen stole his mouthguard, Kane had an entirely forgettable Western Conference Finals series.
Speaking of the mouthguard incident, I'll go ahead and give the Mule the Class Clown Award. I've probably watched this video three dozen times, and it never fails to make me laugh.
Runners up: I'll go with Pavel Datsyuk for being an all around funny guy and that guy who plays Zetterberg in the fake NHL commercials.
The Apple Polisher Award goes to Sidney Crosby. We can all be pretty certain that apples aren't the only thing he's polishing for Gary Bettman.
Runners up: Pierre McGuire, who coincidentally appears to also spend a good deal of time polishing his own head, and Scott Walker because he had to do some epic sucking up to avoid getting suspended for his little sucker-punch.
In our first shocking upset of the night, I'm awarding the Golden Elbow Award to Scott Niedermayer. Believe me, wresting this one from the clutches of his teammate and 6-time winner, Chris Pronger.You.Goon, was quite a feat. Pretty much going after a Lady Byng winner/nominee who clearly didn't want to fight after a game that his team won was the only way anyone was going to defeat Pronger. Lo and behold, that's exactly what Niedermayer did after the Ducks won Game 6 against the Wings. He even threw in furtive peek at the referees before he landed his elbow. It was classic form.
Runners up: PYG just for being himself and Evgeni Malkin for his elbow that "kind of rode up" all the way into Franzen's face.
The Master Thespian Award goes to Sidney Crosby, just for that epic dive he took when Maltby tapped him in the back of the leg. Seriously, I stopped watching the game and replayed it on my DVR three times trying to figure out what he was doing. The fact that I skipped back from the live game for even a second is saying something because it's entirely possible that I would let my own mother die if she happened to choke during a Wings playoff game.
Runners up: Gary Bettman for coming this close to concealing his utter glee when he presented the Cup to Crosby and Chris Osgood for sparking the scrum that led to the Zetterberg/Malkin fight.
And finally, the Unsung Hero Award goes to Darren Helm. On a team highlighted by superstars, this kid who spent the majority of the season in the minors not only looked like he belonged, but oftentimes like he was the best player wearing a Winged Wheel. His epic penalty kill during Game 5 of the Chicago series was one of the highlights of the season. There were games during which I'm pretty sure he never left the ice because it seemed like he was hitting someone or beating them to a loose puck every 10 seconds. Surrounded by Lidstrom, Zetterberg, Datsyuk, Rafalski, Franzen, Hossa and the rest of the bunch, it's easy to overlook him, but man he had a hell of a playoff run.
Runners up: Chris Osgood for never getting one tenth of the credit he deserves and Justin Abdelkader for knocking in twice as many goals as Sidney Crosby during the Finals.