At the 2014 NHL Awards in Las Vegas, most of the hardware went to stars who had strong showings in IIHF competition this year.
On June 24, Sidney Crosby captured the Hart Trophy as NHL MVP, beating out Ryan Getzlaf (Anaheim) and Claude Giroux (Philadelphia). The Pittsburgh Penguins superstar posted an Art Ross Trophy-winning 104 points this season. The only previous time the often-injured 26-year-old native of Cole Harbour, Nova Scotia won either of those trophies was in 2007.
Additionally, Crosby got the Ted Lindsay Award (the player-voted MVP) for the second straight year and third time in his career.
“It’s nice to finally see Sidney get some recognition,” joked host George Stroumboulopoulos.
As the captain of Team Canada, Crosby also won his second straight Olympic gold, scoring a key breakaway goal in a 3-0 victory over Sweden in the final in Sochi, Russia.
Patrice Bergeron – who joined Crosby on the 2014 Olympic team as a two-time gold medallist – won the Selke Trophy as the NHL’s best defensive forward, beating out Jonathan Toews (Chicago) and Anze Kopitar (Los Angeles). Shining for the Boston Bruins, who took the President’s Trophy with an NHL-best 117 points, Bergeron had a whopping 1,015 faceoff wins and a +38 plus-minus rating. It was the 28-year-old pivot’s second Selke Trophy and third straight nomination. He also won in 2012.
For the Norris Trophy, Duncan Keith of the Chicago Blackhawks was voted the winner over Zdeno Chara (Boston) and Shea Weber (Nashville). It’s Keith’s second Norris. With 55 assists, the swift-skating veteran led all NHL defenceman and matched a career high. Keith paired dynamically with Weber in Sochi en route to the second Olympic gold for both men.
Boston Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask outdueled Semyon Varlamov (Colorado) and Ben Bishop (Tampa Bay) to win the Vezina Trophy. It’s the first time the 27-year-old from Savonlinna, Finland has been honoured as the NHL’s top netminder. Rask earned a league-leading seven shutouts, and his 2.04 GAA, 93.3 save percentage, and 36 wins ranked him among the top-five netminders in each of those categories.
“Oh my goodness, I’ve never been so nervous in my life,” said Rask as he accepted his award.
Rask backstopped Finland to Olympic bronze with a 5-0 win over the Americans in Sochi. It was his first IIHF medal since getting bronze in the 2006 World Juniors in Vancouver.
Nathan MacKinnon of the Colorado Avalanche was the consensus favourite for the Calder Trophy as the NHL’s top rookie, and he beat out a pair of budding Tampa Bay Lightning stars, forwards Ondrej Palat and Tyler Johnson. He got 130 out of a possible 137 first-place votes.
Hailing from the same hometown as Crosby, MacKinnon tallied 24 goals and 39 assists, becoming the youngest freshman ever to win the Calder. The speedy centre dented the NHL record book, earning points in 13 straight regular season games to break Wayne Gretzky’s record for an 18-year-old (12).
MacKinnon humbly credited his teammates: “The success of me is due to them.”
After Colorado was eliminated by the Minnesota Wild in the first round, MacKinnon extended his season, suiting up for fifth-place Canada at the 2014 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship in Belarus. He had one goal and three assists in eight games.
Already known were the winners of the Maurice Richard Trophy (Alexander Ovechkin of the Washington Capitals with a league-high 51 goals) and the William M. Jennings Trophy (goalie Jonathan Quick of the Los Angeles Kings).
Ovechkin wryly quipped while accepting his award that he’d like to thank his coach, among others, but noted that Adam Oates doesn’t have a job right now.
Other trophy winners announced were Ryan O’Reilly of the Colorado Avalanche with the Lady Byng Trophy (most sportsmanlike), Colorado coach Patrick Roy with the Jack Adams Trophy (best coach), and Dominic Moore of the New York Rangers with the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy (perseverance and dedication to hockey).
O’Reilly gave kudos to his fellow Byng nominees, Martin St. Louis of the New York Rangers and Patrick Marleau of the San Jose Sharks: “Ten years ago I was watching you guys. I can’t believe I’m actually in the same league as you.”
“[Patrick Roy] brings a winning attitude to our locker room,” said Varlamov, who helped to introduce the Adams nominees. “Me and my teammates really appreciate that.”
Stroumboulopoulos welcomed Dallas Stars forward Rich Peverley to the stage to present the Masterton. Peverley collapsed on the Stars bench during a March 10 game against Columbus and required heart surgery. He hopes to return to hockey if his health permits. “I need to say thank you to everyone throughout the NHL community, so thank you very much,” said Peverley.
The General Manager of the Year was Bob Murray of the Anaheim Ducks, and the Mark Messier Leadership Award went to Los Angeles Kings captain Dustin Brown, who just led his club to its second Stanley Cup in the last three years.
Every member of the two NHL All-Star Teams played at the Olympics. The First Team included Crosby, Corey Perry (Anaheim), and Jamie Benn (Dallas) at forward; Chara and Keith on defence; and Rask in goal. The Second Team had Ovechkin, Getzlaf and Joe Pavelski (San Jose) at forward; Weber and Alex Pietrangelo on defence; and Varlamov in goal.
It was the fifth time the NHL Awards have been held in Las Vegas. This year, there were certainly a lot of safe bets.