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2008-09 Blues Fan Awards

by Chris Pinkert / St. Louis Blues
For two weeks in May, Blues fans were given a chance to submit their votes for the first-ever Blues Fan Awards, held exclusively at Fans could choose the team’s MVP, best forward, best defenseman, unsung hero, biggest surprise, most popular player and the team’s best moment from the 2008-09 season. After thousands of votes, here are the results.

Team MVP
Winner: Chris Mason (46.2% of total votes)
Runner-up: David Backes (17.7% of total votes)
When Manny Legace was assigned to Peoria in February, Chris Mason became the workhorse in goal. After a sluggish start as a backup early in the season, Mason found his groove and led the Blues from dead last in the Western Conference to 6th in just two months. In February, we wrote that Mason’s play would make or break the team’s playoff hopes, and they did. Thanks to him, perhaps more so than any other player, the Blues made their first playoff appearance since the lockout.

Best Forward

Winner: David Backes (31% of total votes)
Runner-up: Brad Boyes (25.7% of total votes)
Blues fans chose David Backes as the team’s best forward during the 2008-09 season, and deservedly so. Backes tied for the team-lead in goals (31) and had 54 points, a career-high. He played in all 82 games and performed well in clutch situations, including a last-second game-tying goal in Boston and a four-goal performance in a crucial game in Detroit. Backes had 13 goals in 2007-08, so there is certainly marked improvement for the power forward. The best part? He’s only 25.

Best Defenseman
Winner: Roman Polak (30.1% of total votes)
Runner-up: Barret Jackman (27.7% of total votes)
Although he’s been a Blues prospect since 2004, fans never really got a good look at Roman Polak until this most recent season, where he proved he certainly belonged in the big leagues. Polak blocked at least one shot in 53 of his 69 games. With injuries to key defenseman like Eric Brewer and Erik Johnson, Polak got plenty of ice time and looked mature in his first full season in the NHL.

Unsung Hero

Winner: Jay McClement (18.8% of total votes)
Runner-up: David Backes (11.3% of total votes)
Penalty killers and role players typically don’t get much attention when it comes to the fans or media, but don’t overlook Jay McClement’s contributions to the team. He quietly went about his work, leading the entire league with more than 315 minutes played while shorthanded. He blocked shots, he hustled, and he was always a threat to score while shorthanded. McClement recently signed a multi-year contract extension with the Blues.

Biggest Surprise

Winner: David Backes (16.9% of total votes)
Runner-up: Chris Mason (16.5% of total votes)
In perhaps the most surprising vote tally, Blues fans chose David Backes for this season’s most surprising performance. Several members of the Blues’ staff felt this was an award that would belong to a rookie like Patrik Berglund or T.J. Oshie for making contributions immediately at the big-league level, but Backes’ improvement (to the tune 18 more goals) takes the prize. Chris Mason finished a very close second.

Most Popular Player

Winner: T.J. Oshie (72.9% of total votes)
Runner-up: Keith Tkachuk (7.1% of total votes)
The winner of the most popular player award shouldn’t come as a shock at all. T.J. Oshie has been highly touted since he was drafted in 2005. Fans had to wait three full years to see Oshie skate as a pro, but when he arrived, he delivered. Oshie had 39 points in 57 games as a rookie and was a plus-16. Big hits and highlight-reel goals will make this 22-year-old one of the team’s most popular players for years to come.

Best Moment

Winner: Blues Clinch Playoff Berth (50% of total votes)
Runner-up: T.J. Oshie Hits Rick Nash…Twice (20.6% of total votes)
One in every two Blues fans agree that the best moment of last season came on April 10, when the team clinched its first playoff berth since the lockout with a 3-1 win over Columbus at Scottrade Center. The sell-out crowd was on their feet and cheering during the game’s final two minutes before erupting at the final buzzer. Many will suggest that it was one of the loudest moments in Scottrade Center’s 15-year history.

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