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Blue Jackets win big in Vegas

Nick Foligno, Sergei Bobrovsky and John Tortorella will all take hardware back to Columbus

by Alison Lukan @AlisonL / BlueJackets.com

The city of Las Vegas has a reputation that if you play hard, and have a little luck, you can win big. That's a theory the Blue Jackets won't be disputing any time soon. The Jackets sent four representatives, the most of any NHL team, to this year's NHL Awards and came away with four honors, also the most of any team. They leave Vegas with hardware for the League's best goaltender, best coach, the Mark Messier Leadership Award and the King Clancy Memorial Trophy.

"When people are up for an award it is the mention of teammates and things like that which is gigantic," John Davidson said. "For us as the organization, working to stabilize the organization and trying to build a base and have us be in the hunt year after year, to see this happen the way it has you can say 'you know what? Things are going in the right direction.'"

 As any good leader should do, captain Nick Foligno started off the team's winning ways. Foligno doubled down by winning the Messier Award and King Clancy Trophy in acknowledgement of his leadership on and off the ice over the past season. Foligno is the first NHL player to win both awards in the same year.

Video: Foligno wins King Clancy and Leadership Award

Head coach John Tortorella added another award to his trophy case. He won the second Jack Adams Award of his career. He previously won in 2003-04 after winning the Stanley Cup with the Tampa Bay Lightning. Tortorella is now just the sixth coach in NHL history to win the award multiple times.

In his second year with the Jackets, Tortorella coached the team to a 32-point rebound from the previous season, a fourth-place finish in the League, and the team's third playoff appearance in franchise history.  

"I learned a ton from our players the last couple of years," Tortorella said. "I hope they've learned from me, but I think I've learned more from them. You're always trying to learn as a coach. I just try to go about my business and stay current with the game and what you have to do with your players. It's been very rewarding with these guys."

Video: John Tortorella is presented the Jack Adams Award

Tortorella thanked his family, the Blue Jackets' leadership, his assistant coaches and training and medical teams. He was also sure to give credit to his goaltender, Sergei Bobrovsky who also came away with NHL honors.

Bobrovsky won the second Vezina Trophy of his career after a tremendous season that ended with a League-leading .931 save percentage and 41 wins in 63 games. The 28-year-old had 14-straight wins during the Jackets' 16-game win streak, and three consecutive shutouts against Minnesota (Mar. 2), and New Jersey (Mar. 5, Mar. 7). He played in the 2017 All-Star Game and is the first Jackets player to be nominated twice for a major NHL Award.

Bobrovsky, who battled through injury last season, was reflective on returning to the stage as the League's best goaltender.

"You get older, you get more mature," Bobrovsky said. "You appreciate more these moments in your life. Especially because the goalies get better, there's lots of great goaltenders in this league and that makes it so special.

Video: Sergei Bobrovsky is presented the Vezina Trophy

"The organization helped me a lot. I really appreciate the trust they have in me especially with the last three years. I went through injuries, I went through ups and downs. I appreciate the trust and that they believe in me."

Bobrovsky was also named to the First All-Star team as voted on by the Professional Hockey Writers' Association (PHWA). It was the second time the Novokuznetsk native received the honor (2012-13).

Much like Tortorella, Bobrovsky was quick to credit the work of the entire Jackets' team who "block a lot of shots and help me a lot," including rooking defenseman Zach Werenski.

Werenski, a finalist for the Calder Trophy awarded to the year's most outstanding rookie, lost out to friend, and Maple Leaf's center, Auston Matthews. But the Jackets defenseman didn't go home without any honors. He was named to the 2016-17 All-Rookie team as voted on by the PHWA.

Video: Werenski speaks prior to the NHL Awards in Las Vegas

Werenski is the fourth Jackets' rookie to receive such a nomination.

In his first NHL season, Werenski scored 47 points (11-36-47). That was good enough to set the franchise record in rookie scoring, and make the Michigan native the points leader among NHL rookie defensemen and 13th in total points among all defensemen.

As the Jackets head home with some new hardware and buckle down to focus on preparing for next season, the Awards serve as a nice reminder that, at least this time, what happens in Vegas doesn't just stay in Vegas.

"I'm just thrilled for our organization," Tortorella said. "There's a little bit of recognition in the off-season going on for us. I hope it fuels us coming up to our next season because we had a hell of a year but the hard stuff starts next season."

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