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2011 NHL Awards

Datsyuk up against Kesler, Toews in Selke voting

Wednesday, 04.27.2011 / 12:00 PM / 2011 NHL Awards

Brian Hunter - NHL.com Staff Writer

The nominations for the Frank J. Selke Trophy, announced Wednesday by the NHL, should come as little surprise to fans of the Detroit Red Wings and anyone who watched the first-round Stanley Cup Playoff series between the Vancouver Canucks and Chicago Blackhawks.

Pavel Datsyuk, who has won the award for three consecutive years, will have the opportunity at making it a four-peat, while Ryan Kesler and Jonathan Toews, who took turns checking one another into submission in a seven-game grudge match for the ages, round out this year's field.

The Selke is awarded annually "to the forward who best excels in the defensive aspects of the game" as judged by the Professional Hockey Writers' Association. Selke, its namesake, was an architect of championship teams in both Montreal and Toronto.

The award is voted on at the end of the regular season, so the writers don't get to take playoff performances into account, but Kesler and Toews displayed why they're up for consideration as the Canucks held off the Blackhawks' comeback from a 3-0 series deficit and a late shorthanded goal that forced Game 7 into overtime.

Emery, Langkow, Laperriere up for Masterton

Tuesday, 04.26.2011 / 12:00 PM / 2011 NHL Awards

Brian Hunter - NHL.com Staff Writer

The vast majority of accolades that will be handed out at the 2011 NHL Awards in Las Vegas on June 22 will go to players judged to be the "best" in their particular category -- the star scorer, the top goaltender, the most-celebrated rookie.

One award, however, isn't about lighting up the stat sheet or piling up the wins and shutouts. The Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy, which honors the late Minnesota North Stars player who died in 1968, is handed out annually to "the National Hockey League player who best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey."

It's a special award that takes an athlete with a certain set of characteristics to earn, and it's hard to find a more worthy list of nominees than the three announced by the League on Tuesday: Anaheim Ducks goalie Ray Emery, Calgary Flames forward Daymond Langkow and Philadelphia Flyers forward Ian Laperriere.

After getting off to a strong start with the Flyers during the 2009-10 season, Emery's career was temporarily derailed by a torn muscle in his abdomen, followed by the discovery he had avascular necrosis, a serious hip problem that led to the end of two-sport star Bo Jackson's career in the 1990s. Emery had successful hip surgery last April and eventually signed as a free agent with the Ducks. Called up late in the season due to vertigo issues suffered by normal starter Jonas Hiller, he went 7-2-0 with a 2.28 goals-against average and .926 save percentage to help Anaheim clinch the fourth seed in the Western Conference. Emery also started the final five games of the Ducks' first-round series against the Predators.

Norris nods go to Lidstrom, Chara and Weber

Monday, 04.25.2011 / 12:00 PM / 2011 NHL Awards

David Kalan - NHL.com Staff Writer

Hockey fans familiar with Charles Dickens' "A Christmas Carol" might be interested in penning a summer-time fable called "A Norris Carol" this June, as this year's nominees for the NHL's top defenseman could just as easily represent top blueliners past, present and future. The nominees for the 2011 Norris Trophy were announced Monday as Detroit's Nicklas Lidstrom, Boston's Zdeno Chara and Nashville's Shea Weber.

The three star d-men, all captains of their respective teams, uniquely seem to span multiple eras, as Lidstrom, a future Hall of Famer with six Norris Trophies on his resume, is in his 19th regular season, Chara, a one-time winner, is currently in his 12th full season and Weber, in his fifth full season, is receiving his first nomination.

Lidstrom's campaign was simply more of what has become expected of the legendary defenseman. In 82 games, the four-time Cup winner had the second-most points of all defensemen this season, tallying 16 goals and 46 assists, an impressive total for any defenseman let alone one who turns 41 this week. In addition to providing a boost on the offensive end, Lidstrom has continued to shut down the opposition's top lines while staying out of the penalty box to an impressive extent, serving just 20 minutes in the sin bin all season. As Detroit's captain, Lidstrom led the Red Wings to a 20th consecutive postseason berth and their 14th division title since he was drafted in 1989.

In Boston, Chara has continued to maintain a physical presence on the Bruins' top pair by masterfully using his massive 6-foot-9 frame stymie opposing offenses. His plus-33 rating was the best among defensemen in the NHL this season and Chara's blistering shot also found its way into the net 14 times while he dished 30 assists as Boston took the Northeast Division crown.

Luongo, Rinne, Thomas nominated for Vezina

Friday, 04.22.2011 / 12:00 PM / 2011 NHL Awards

Brian Hunter - NHL.com Staff Writer

When it came to stopping the puck this season, Roberto Luongo, Pekka Rinne and Tim Thomas were in a class of their own.

Friday's announcement of their nominations for this year's Vezina Trophy -- awarded annually "to the goalkeeper adjudged to be the best at his position" -- comes, then, as little surprise.

Luongo of the Vancouver Canucks, Rinne from the Nashville Predators and Thomas of the Boston Bruins were the top-three finishers in goals-against average, in the top four in save percentage, and each led his team to a berth in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Thomas, of course, is familiar with this award, having won it just two seasons ago. As unlikely a candidate as he made in 2009, when he was nominated as a 35-year-old playing in just his third full season in the NHL, he may have topped that this season after rebounding from a disappointing campaign in which he posted a sub-.500 record and lost the starting job heading into the playoffs to rookie Tuukka Rask.

Lady Byng finalists: Eriksson, Lidstrom, St. Louis

Thursday, 04.21.2011 / 12:00 PM / 2011 NHL Awards

David Kalan - NHL.com Staff Writer

The Lady Byng Trophy's nominees tend to have a familiar ring every year. For a trophy awarded to the "player adjudged to have exhibited the best type of sportsmanship and gentlemanly conduct combined with a high standard of playing ability," it shouldn't be surprising the Lady Byng has a penchant for repeat winners, given players tend not to alter their playing style. Wayne Gretzky has taken home the award five times and Pavel Datsyuk won it four consecutive seasons until Tampa Bay's Martin St. Louis took the honors a year ago.

As a result of those trends, it should shock no one that St. Louis is getting a chance to defend his title as a finalist this year -- but the two other nominees joining him present a potentially historic victor as well as some fresh blood in the race. Detroit defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom could be the first blueliner in 57 years to take home the prize, while Dallas winger Loui Eriksson is up for the award for the first time in his career.

In the case of the current title holder, St. Louis' nomination is a no-brainer. Not only has he continued to be a dynamic producer -- his 99 points are second most in the League -- but few players can so impressively mesh scoring ability with team play. In addition to his 31 goals in the regular season, St. Louis' 68 assists were the second most in the League. This season St. Louis helped young sniper Steven Stamkos continue to mature, while also helping the Lightning earn their first playoff spot in four years.

But what makes St. Louis an obvious finalist and the odds-on favorite to take the Byng home again is his knack for avoiding the sin bin. In a full 82 games this season, St. Louis picked up just 12 penalty minutes.

Yzerman credits nomination to organization

Wednesday, 04.20.2011 / 1:54 PM / 2011 NHL Awards

Mike G. Morreale - NHL.com Staff Writer

TAMPA -- The 2010-11 campaign marked the first time since donning his first Detroit Red Wings jersey 27 years ago that Steve Yzerman would begin an NHL season in a different city -- as the vice president and general manager of the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Thing is, he'd been preparing for this all his life. He was groomed by many fabulous coaches as a player and in the front office as part of Detroit's executive staff the previous five seasons.
Oddly enough, the same season that Yzerman's eventual Hall of Fame career would begin in 1983-84, a career minor-league goalie named Ken Holland would suit up three games for the Red Wings. Holland would eventually take over as GM for long-time Wings executive Jimmy Devellano following the team's ninth Stanley Cup in 1997 and, really, hasn't looked back.
Under Holland, the Wings have won nine Central Division titles, four Presidents' Trophies, five regular-season Western Conference crowns and three Stanley Cups.

Gillis discusses GM nod, work in Vancouver

Wednesday, 04.20.2011 / 12:20 PM / 2011 NHL Awards

Dan Rosen - NHL.com Senior Writer

"It feels really good, but it's really a testament to the organization."
-- Mike Gillis

CHICAGO -- Mike Gillis is as poised and composed as his team. He's ready to take on all challenges, but only if he gets to do them one at a time and never loses focus of the process that goes along with it.

As general manager, Gillis sets the tone for the Vancouver Canucks' organization and it bleeds into his coaching staff and players. For three seasons the former player agent has been sitting on the hot seat in Vancouver and this spring he might finally be in line to reap some rewards, both the individual kind and the organizational variety.

Gillis, Yzerman, Poile GM of the Year finalists

Wednesday, 04.20.2011 / 12:00 PM / 2011 NHL Awards

David Kalan - NHL.com Staff Writer

As the NHL announced its second group of finalists for year end awards Wednesday, the League announced that Vancouver's Mike Gillis, Tampa Bay's Steve Yzerman and Nashville's David Poile are the three finalists for the honor of the League's top GM.

The nomination of Gillis should come as little surprise to those around the League. Gillis has steadily built the Canucks into one of the top organizations in the sport, but after crafting a roster that had the best season in franchise history in 2010-11, he is among the most worthy of recognition. Vancouver led the League with 54 wins, 117 points, 258 goals scored and just 180 goals against, as the team won the Presidents' Trophy for the first time in franchise history.

Vancouver's Northwest Division title this season was its fifth in the past seven seasons, and after suffering second-round playoff ousters in both 2009 and 2010 at the hands of the Chicago Blackhawks, the Canucks hold a commanding 3-1 series lead over Chicago in the first round this year and appear poised for a deep postseason run.

Yzerman, who is in just his first season as a General Manager after several years in Detroit's front office, made several moves last summer, such as signing defensemen Pavel Kubina and Brett Clark and bringing in left-winger Simon Gagne. Those moves, combined with a maturing Steven Stamkos and strong seasons by longtime Bolts Martin St. Louis and Vincent Lecavalier have led the Lightning, who spent much of the season in first place in the Southeast Division, to their first playoff berth in four years.

Kesler's two-way play should earn him Selke

Tuesday, 04.12.2011 / 1:16 PM / 2011 NHL Awards

Dave Lozo - NHL.com Staff Writer

The Frank J. Selke Trophy is probably the hardest award to dish out. It's given to the forward who best excels in the defensive aspects of the game, but measuring one's defensive prowess is nowhere near as easy figuring out who's the top scorer.

Voters have plenty of metrics at their disposal -- takeaways, blocked shots, plus-minus, hits, faceoff percentage, shorthanded goals and even the old-fashioned eye test. Last season, Detroit's Pavel Datsyuk was the winner for the second season in a row.

This season, there's no clear-cut candidate. There are plenty of worthy forwards who have excelled in all the aforementioned categories, including Vancouver's Manny Malhotra. But a freak eye injury in a game on March 16 cost him the final month of the season and perhaps a shot at his first Selke Trophy.

Thomas goes wire-to-wire as our Vezina pick

Tuesday, 04.12.2011 / 12:57 PM / 2011 NHL Awards

Dan Rosen - NHL.com Senior Writer

One guy has been the leader in the Vezina Trophy race all season and there's no reason to knock him off his well-deserved pedestal now.

Tim Thomas has been from start to finish the best goalie in the NHL this season. It's why he was named by NHL.com as the Vezina Trophy leader at the quarter-mark, the halfway point and the three-quarter mark of the season.

The runner-ups changed at each turn but the leader never did, and never should have either. Here's why:

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