With the majority of NHL teams having played their required 41 games so far, I thought it might be fun to have a little mock awards show for players who stood out in the first half of the NHL season. Basically, like the MTV Music Awards and American Music Awards, these are joke awards that poke a little fun at the players. They mean nothing, and should not be taken out of the context of being a mock award. I respect the NHL players and what they do, but, sometimes, it helps to have a little giggle due to the circumstances of some players. This is definitely for comedic purposes only, though, and should only be viewed as such.
Without further adieu, though, here are Hockey Blog In Canada's Mid-Season Review Awards. Please click on the award's name to get a close up view of the award that is being given to the player.
1) Best Performer With Most Time on the IR Award: Much can be said about the resurgeance of the Chicago Blackhawks this season. Strong play from their dazzling rookies in Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews has contributed. The re-discovery of scorers like Patrick Sharp and Robert Lang has certainly helped. However, the one guy who brings it hard every time he plays is Martin Havlat. The problem, though, is getting him to play. In 12 games thus far this season, Havlat has five goals and six assists - good for 11th in team scoring. Nearly averaging a point-per-game is a solid performer at the NHL level. However, playing in an average of 28 games per season over the last three seasons due to various injuries has limited Havlat to an average of 13 goals and 15 assist - a point-per-game. Havlat has certainly made the most of his time on the ice in between hospital stays.
2) The Clock Is Ticking Award: This award was almost given to a couple of other notable names - Jeremy Roenick and Mark Recchi were considered, but both have contributed to their respective teams. So instead, we look at another player who has almost gone unheard of since the 2001-02 season. Owen Nolan joined the Calgary Flames this summer, and was supposed to add some scoring punch to the second or third lines as well as the powerplay. The rugged forward was to be a compliment to the Flames other power forward in Jerome Iginla. Instead, they got what Toronto and Phoenix found out - he doesn't skate very well anymore, and his hands are more like stone. In 39 games with the Flames this season, Nolan has 7 goals and 6 assists. Projected over 82 games, Nolan would end up with 15 goals and 12 assists, his worst season total since his rookie season with Quebec in 1990-91. It's time to move on, Nolan. You're not worth the money you're being paid.
3) Best Team - First Half: This is an easy one, and it's not just based on their record. The Detroit Red Wings have been missing key players at various times this season, yet the Big Red Machine just refuses to lose. The Wings have been without the services of Henrik Zetterberg, Tomas Holmstrom, and Pavel Datsyuk at various points during the season, yet others step in to fill the void. Jiri Hudler has been excellent; Valeri Fittipula has performed well; Dan Cleary has continued to score goals in a checking role. On the back end, Chris Osgood has been a surprise with his strong play, and Dominik Hasek continues to have another Hasek-like season. The depth of this team is unparalleled in the NHL right now, and they certainly have been the best team up to this point due to that depth.
4) Best Job At Avoiding A Pink Slip: With Glen Hanlon and Bob Hartley already fired, it seems to me that there is another team that is stocking top-10 NHL Entry Draft picks like no one else. The Los Angeles Kings have a ton of good, young talent, yet find themselves dead last in the NHL standings, three points behind the Tampa Bay Lightning. Marc Crawford somehow avoids a pink slip daily, and I keep asking myself how. Does he have compromising photos of Dean Lombardi? Is he holding someone's daughter for ransom? The guy has zero coaching skills. If he did, you would expect the Kings to make some improvements each year. Instead, he posted 27 wins for the Kings last year as their head coach, and seems to headed for that total again this season as the projected win total is 28. The guy he replaced, Andy Murray, has taken a young St. Louis Blues team, and made them a legitimate threat this season. WHY DOES CRAWFORD STILL HAVE A JOB?
5) Best Career Save: The one guy who may have saved his career in the NHL this season so far is Ty Conklin. After sitting all last season in Buffalo watching Ryan Miller play, Conklin signed a minor-league deal with the Pittsburgh Penguins. The 31 year-old's career appeared to be over after the Oilers all but gave up on him. Instead, Conklin has been the second-coming of Patrick Lalime in Pittsburgh. As you may remember, Lalime started his career with a 16-game undefeated streak, an NHL record. Conklin has essentially restarted his career with a seven-game unbeaten streak with the Penguins, and helped vault his team into fourth-place in the conference, and one point behind the Atlantic Division-leading New Jersey Devils. Conklin has been a large reason why the Penguins have climbed the Eastern Conference standings.
6) The Doughnut Award: Despite the strong play by both Chris Osgood and Roberto Luongo as of late, goaltender Pascal Leclaire is still my pick for the best goalie of the first half. He has seven shutouts to lead the league. He is sporting a 1.97 GAA. His save percentage is .928. He's 13-8-3, and has been a large reason why the Blue Jackets are challenging for a playoff spot. The Columbus Blue Jackets are no longer the pushovers of the Central Division and currently sit in third place, one point behind the St. Louis Blues. While Fredrik Norrena has struggled this season, Leclaire has finally found the form that made him the 8th overall pick in the 2001 Entry Draft, and given the Blue Jackets a chance at their first post-season in franchise history. While Osgood and Luongo play on teams that were expected to challenge for division titles, no one expected this of Pascal Leclaire and the Blue Jackets except for the Blue Jackets themselves.
7) Best New Kid: The flame burns brightly in Chicago where two dynamic rookies play. However, this award goes to Jonathan Toews in the first half. Why? I'll let the video do the talking.
15 goals and 17 assists in 36 games helps as well.
8) Jackass Veteran of the Year: As you can see, this award is just a signed DVD copy of the movie Jackass because you really don't deserve anything for being a complete jackass. However, this award goes to the New York Islanders' Chris Simon. I'll let the lowlights of his year do the talking.
9) Jackass Rookie of the Year: This award is simply a Jackass 2 poster. No autographs or anything on it most because this next player doesn't even deserve an NHL job at this point. Steve Downie is total jackass. This kid needs to start trying to throw hits and punches with some of the established heavyweights in the NHL so he can get his clock cleaned. Georges Laraque would be my first choice, followed by Brian McGrattan and Andrew Peters. Again, let's go to the video to see how Downie won his jackass award.
Get this kid out of the NHL. He's a loose cannon.
10) First Half MVP: Look, I'm a strong believer that an MVP shouldn't come from a last-place team. It might happen in baseball, but really... if the MVP wasn't on the last place team, they still would have finished last, right? So Vincent Lecavalier is out. My other criteria is that the player has to elevate the other players around him while improving his team's standing overall. To that degree, no one has done more to make the players around him better while making his team as good as it can be than Henrik Zetterberg. In 37 games so far, Zetterberg has 25 goals and 28 assists. He appears on the highlight reel every night. There really has been no one who has played better all season in both ends of the rink. He also plays on both the powerplay and the penalty kill. In terms of being the most valuable player in the league, no one does more for his team than Henrik Zetterberg.
Ok, so that's a little fun for today. Take it easy, and have a few laughs at these awards. I'm working on a couple of things for this week, and hopefully these little projects will come to fruition.
Until then, keep your sticks on the ice!