The Finalists Should Be. . .
The NHL will announce its award finalists today, but why wait?
Here's who should be the final three in the important categories. And no, we're not going to worry about the Lady Byng and the Selke, which, fairly or unfairly, have become completely marginalized. They've almost become consolation prizes for good players not quite good enough to land any of the biggies.
All people care about are the Hart (MVP), the Norris (top defenceman), the Calder (top rookie) the Vezina (top goalie) and the Jack Adams (coach of the year).
(Editors note: Since some don't understand, the writers vote on the Hart, Norris and Calder, the general managers vote on the Vezina and the Adams voting is done by the broadcasters association.)
If the NHL was smart, it would dump the Lady Byng and the Selke, make goalies ineligible for the Hart, create the Bobby Orr Trophy for best offensive defenceman, leave the Norris for the stay-at-home types and establish the Sam Pollock Award for top executive.
But for now, we'll play by their rules:
HART: Sidney Crosby (Pittsburgh), Martin Brodeur (New Jersey), Roberto Luongo (Vancouver)
See? Wouldn't it be more interesting if Vincent Lecavalier or Chris Drury or Joe Thornton were in the running? Goalies are by definition the most important player on every team, so it becomes a silly exercise.
NORRIS: Nicklas Lidstrom (Detroit), Scott Niedermayer (Anaheim), Dan Boyle (Tampa Bay).
More than any other award, this one is won by reputation. It's going to be tough for anybody to yank it away from Lidstrom.
CALDER: Evgeni Malkin (Pittsburgh), Jordan Staal (Pittsburgh), Paul Stastny (Colorado).
Hard to believe looking back that Alexander Ovechkin beat Crosby a year ago. But this one has been reserved for Malkin since the season began. Still don't know who'll be the best player over time. Might even be Anze Kopitar of the Kings.
VEZINA: Brodeur, Luongo, Ryan Miller (Buffalo)
Give Miller some props for playing behind the league's most offensive team. But this has been about Brodeur and Luongo for a long time now, and is too close to call.
ADAMS: Michel Therrien (Pittsburgh), Lindy Ruff (Buffalo), Randy Carlyle (Anaheim).
People should hope Ruff wins because his brand of positive, offensive hockey is desperately needed across the league, and, sadly, it appears more defensive hockey is becoming increasingly popular again.
And if there was a Sam Pollock Award. . . .??
POLLOCK: Darcy Regier (Sabres), Dave Nonis (Vancouver), John Muckler (Ottawa).
Regier has played the system better than anyone, Nonis made the big deal and Muckler, by resisting the call for big change when the team wasn't going well, may have created a champion.