Las Vegas, NV - Florida's Brian Campbell and Colorado's Gabriel Landeskog spoiled the party by winning the Lady Byng and Calder Memorial Trophies, but Jordan Eberle and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins aren't going home disappointed.
And doing so without having to make a speech is a relief in itself. Both players had prepared one, but were eager to trash it under the circumstances and with a post-show laugh.
"It's only my second year (in the NHL), so it's quite an honour just to be nominated," Eberle said.
In 78 games, scoring 34 goals and 76 points, the 22-year-old was charged with only 10 minutes in penalties. Campbell, 33, led all NHLers in ice time in 2011-12 with over 2,205 minutes played. Astonishingly, he was assessed only three minor penalties all season.
No matter what the result, it's an impressive accomplishment nonetheless.
"It's not something I ever really focused on because you want to play the game with an edge and go to the tough areas," Eberle explained. "But there's a positive to being on the right side of the puck and doing the right things, and that's what this award means to me.
"I was nervous. I was probably more nervous to have to go up and do a speech. I think the NHL should adopt some kind of public speaking program, because I think there were a couple guys that were nervous and even dropped an F-bomb (Henrik Lundqvist) at some point too."
The Professional Hockey Writers' Association cast 582 votes to Campbell and 512 to Eberle.
The league's Rookie of the Year title was awarded to Landeskog with 1,383 votes to Nugent-Hopkins' 1,001, which included 116 of 142 first-place tallies. RNH didn't go home empty-handed, though, as he was named to the NHL's 2011-12 All-Rookie Team.
"I was cheering for him," Eberle said of his teammate. "I don't think he can be disappointed. He had an amazing season. To step in and do what he did, it's very impressive."
"It's a big honour for me to be nominated," said the Oilers' candidate. "But congrats to Gabriel. I'm pretty good buddies with him, he's a great guy and deserves all the best. As the season drew to an end, I heard that more about Landeskog [to win]. It's something that I expected, but it was a cool experience to go through everything that I did this week."
"Ryan would have won it if he didn't get hurt," Landeskog added. "I think (New Jersey's) Adam (Henrique) could have won it, too, if you counted the post-season. They're two great players and two great guys.
"It's pretty special and tough to describe right now."
With Pittsburgh's Evgeni Malkin winning the Hart Memorial Trophy as the league's MVP and others earning similar titles, both Eberle and RNH couldn't help but look ahead.
"It would really cool if I got the chance to go up for another award, no matter what the award was," Nugent-Hopkins said.
"It makes you hungry," Eberle added. "That's where I want to be and that's what I'm working toward. [This season has] been a whirlwind. Before I knew it, I was in the All-Star Game -- a couple months later, I was at the World Championship and here at the NHL Awards. This year has gone by quick and I want to build on it for next year."
-- Ryan Dittrick, edmontonoilers.com - Follow me on Twitter | @ryandittrick