“In case some of you are wondering who the best is, they’re up here on this plaque.”
There are Oscars and there are Grammys. There are Tonys and Webbys. All of them are nice awards to take home. There’s no shame in winning one. There are great parties, red carpets and goodie bags stuffed with all kinds of free stuff for people who need free swag like they need a hole in the head.
But every once in a while, an award comes along that put all the others in the shadows. Once in a while, an award comes along that makes winning anything else seem insignificant. It’s like when the Medal of Honor was born in 1861 it made honor-student bumper stickers seem trivial. Well, sort of.
Anyway, as the 2006-07 regular season comes to a close this week, voters will decide who they want to see win the highly regarded NHL trophies. The Vezina, the Norris, the Jack Adams will all be decided in the coming weeks.
Not quite as renowned, the Grossie Awards -- the newest award show on the block, where the goodie bags are empty and the tradition not quite as rich -- were tallied this week.
Without further ado, here are the first-ever winners:
* The Tony Soprano Trophy will go to Ottawa forward Chris Neil, who was leading the League with 278 hits this week.
* The Kareem-Abdul Jabbar Trophy goes to Ottawa defenseman Anton Volchenkov, tops in the NHL with 269 blocked shots with two games to play.
* The Oprah Winfrey Trophy, awarded to the player with the most giveaways, will be presented to Rangers captain Jaromir Jagr, who was No. 1 in the League with 122 giveaways this week and two more games to play.
* The Danny Ocean Trophy, awarded to the player most proficient in takeaways, will go to Detroit forward Pavel Datsyuk, leading the League with 105 steals going into the final week.
* The Ritz Carlton Road Scoring Trophy will end up going home with Tampa Bay’s Vincent Lecavalier, who was tops in the League with 60 points on the road with one more away game remaining.
* The Bob Villa Trophy, awarded to the player with the most points at home, will most likely go to homeboy Sidney Crosby, whose 62 points on Pittsburgh ice were just two better than Joe Thornton’s 60 going into the final week of play.
* The Dirty Harry Callahan Trophy, awarded to the player who exhibits the best shooting accuracy all season, will go to Pittsburgh rookie Jordan Staal, who scored 29 goals on his first 126 shots of the season, tops in the NHL at 23 percent.
* The Mario Lemieux Trophy, based on his series-winning goal in the 1987 Canada Cup against Russia, is going down to the wire. Going into the final week of the season, three players – Teemu Selanne, Dany Heatley and Henrik Zetterberg – were all tied with 10 game-winning goals. Stay tuned on this one.
* The Wyatt Earp Trophy awarded to the player with the most shootout goals is still being contested with Pittsburgh’s Erik Christensen and Minnesota’s Mikko Koivu tied with eight shootout goals so far.
* The Uncle Benny Thunderpunch Award goes to the Rangers’ Colton Orr for the knockout he delivered to Todd Fedoruk March 21 at Madison Square Garden.
* The Theodore Kaczynski Award for E-Mailer of the Year goes, in a landslide, to Ryan Lundy, whose vesatoskular email changed the way we talk about hockey forever.
* The George Costanza Chucker Trophy, which goes to the player who takes the most shots on goal, someone George would likely call a “chucker” in the locker room, will likely end up with Alexander Ovechkin, who had 380 attempts – 40 more than the next guy on the list – with two games left to play.
* Don Cherry takes home The Don Cherry Trophy for the most entertaining hockey personality on television, primarily because Brett Hull never quite said anything worthy of knocking Grapes off as the heavyweight champion of gab.
* The Goal of the Year goes to Evgeni Malkin’s crossover through Brad Lukowich and Colin White and the move to the backhand against Martin Brodeur on Oct. 24 that culminated in No. 71 smacking the glass and the Versus guys proclaiming “Shades of Mario.”
* The John McClane Trophy -- named after Bruce Willis’ beat-up character from the Die Hard series that never seemed to let pain slow him down -- goes to Philadelphia’s Mike Knuble. The gritty forward returned to the lineup after missing 12 games with a broken cheek and orbital bone that required two steel plates to be inserted in his face.
* The Jack Bauer Trophy, awarded to the player who logs the most ice time in a season, will go home with Boston defenseman Zdeno Chara, who led all players with 2,187:56 total ice time and averaged 28:03 per game with two left to play.
* The Russell Crowe Trophy, awarded to the player with the most majors in a season, will go to Anaheim pugilist George Parros, who had 18 majors this week with three games yet to play.
* The Britney Spears Trophy, which is presented to the player with the most misconducts in a single season, is still in limbo. Both Edmonton rookie Zack “Attack” Stortini and Tampa defenseman Shane O’Brien were tied with four misconducts on the year going into the final week of play.
* And last, but certainly not least, the Grossie, awarded to the player with the most gross misconduct penalties in a single season, will go to Chicago rookie David Koci. Despite being tied with Josh Gratton with three gross misconducts each, Koci wins the Grossie because he accumulated that many in only nine games. Over the course of an 82-game season, Koci, a 6-foot-6 Czech rookie who doesn’t take any guff, would be on pace for a whopping 28 gross misconducts.
* According to a report, a little under one-third of U.S. households do not have Internet access. Sadly, one-third of the country therefore has no access to Gross Misconduct.
* Scientists have created the first human-sheep, a creature with the body of a sheep and half-human organs inside. According to a report, the project could one day lead to animal organs one day being transplanted in humans. In the NHL some feel like the experiments have already begun with a sledgehammer transplanted where Colton Orr’s right hand should be.
* A UK-based company is introducing the first million dollar laptop. The high-priced machine, according to reports, will feature a 17" widescreen LED lit screen with a specially designed anti-reflective glare coating for clear and brighter image, 128GB of disk space and a slot loading Blue-Ray drive, and a diamond jewel to be used for security encoding. NHL Center Ice Online will not come standard with the laptop, but you can sign up on NHL.com for the low price of $49 for that.
* According to a report, a mysterious hexagon has been spotted by a NASA camera above Saturn’s north pole. The geometric shape, taking up an area of about 25,000 kilometers was photographed in that planet’s cloud systems and has been compared to the Earth’s polar vortex. Unsure of what the hexagon is, scientists know only that the goalie can’t control the puck outside of it.
* City leaders, according to reports out of San Francisco, approved a ban on plastic grocery bags. Stores are being asked to use bags made of paper or reusable cloth. If not for the offensive odor, hockey bags were to be considered as a replacement as well.
* Los Angeles is going through its longest drought in 130 years, according to the National Weather Service last week. According to the agency, California had received less than three inches of rain since July 1, 2006, but the dry spell was nothing compared to the arid conditions in Toronto that haven’t produced a Stanley Cup since 1967.
* A Salt Lake City news anchor was busted for falling asleep on camera last week during a colleague’s weather report. Guess he’s not the only one still waiting for something as exciting as the 2002 Winter Games to come to town.