You never hear Lady Byng Memorial Trophy candidates saying nasty words about anybody, be it on their own team or the opposition. You never see them even nearing the line of injustice in the National Hockey League, let along toeing it.
Basically, NHL disciplinarian Colin Campbell never has to worry about calling Lady Byng candidates into detention because the award is given out to the player who best exemplifies sportsmanship and gentlemanly conduct combined with a high level of playing ability.
This year, the candidates fit the mold well.
Detroit center Pavel Datsyuk
, who has won the trophy in back-to-back years now, is joined by Tampa Bay right wing Martin St. Louis
and Buffalo right wing Jason Pominville
. St. Louis was last season's runner-up.
Let's take a closer look at why they've been nominated:
Pavel Datsyuk ( Highlights )
He's yet again a no-brainer for this nomination because you'll still be hard pressed to find another player who plays as well as Datsyuk does within the rules of the game.
Datsyuk once again led the NHL in takeaways by a landslide, this year with 144 as opposed to last year's 107. Mike Modano
was second in takeaways this season with 86, or 58 less than Datsyuk.
And Datsyuk once again became the NHL's steals king in the most disciplined and safe way. He committed only 10 minor penalties for 20 minutes in the box, the same numbers he registered last season.
Even better, Datsyuk had the most productive offensive season of his six-year career. He had a career-high 97 points on 31 goals and 66 assists while playing in all 82 games for the first time in his career. He led the NHL with a plus-41 rating.
"If you look at his individual skills, they're tops in the League – the way he can stickhandle, come out of the corners with the puck, come down one-on-one with the puck,” Red Wings defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom
told NHL.com earlier this season. "The things he can do with the puck look easy, but they're really hard to do. Some of the times on the bench we're in awe of what he's doing.”
Martin St. Louis ( Highlights)
What was a forgettable year for Tampa Bay still turned out to be a solid year for St. Louis, who once again exemplified everything a top line right wing is supposed to be for his team.
St. Louis finished second in points on Tampa Bay behind Vinny Lecavalier with 83, including 25 goals while playing in all 82 games for the second straight season. He committed only 13 minor penalties for 26 minutes in the box while leading the Lightning with 65 takeaways.
The only knock on St. Louis this season was his minus-23 rating, but Michel Ouellet
(plus-11) and rookie defenseman Mike Lundin
(plus-3) were the only two players on Tampa Bay to finish with plus ratings.
Jason Pominville ( Highlights)
The Sabres' right wing gains League-wide respect every season and could very well end up as Buffalo's captain next season. While that remains to be seen, there's no doubting that Pominville has fast become one of the League's top skilled gentlemen.
Even though the Sabres missed the playoffs this season, Pominville acquitted himself quite well as he put up a career-high 80 points on 27 goals and 53 assists. His plus-16 rating was second on the team. He was the Sabres' captain in March.
Pominville also had 38 takeaways and committed only 10 minor penalties while playing in all 82 games for the second-straight season. This is his first nomination for the Lady Byng Memorial Trophy.
Pominville is a dual citizen of both the United States and Canada – his father is French-Canadian, his mother American – and he chose to play for Team USA in the upcoming IIHF World Championships in both Quebec City and Halifax, Nova Scotia.