Midseason Awards Part III: The Calder, Jack Adams, and Lady Byng

Jonathan Willis
January 19 2012 10:10AM

As the NHL moves past the midway mark of the season, it’s time to look back at which players deserve hardware, based on their performance over the first half. To answer that question, we polled writers from across the Nation Network, talking to writers at every site.

Today, we consider the third and final set of our midseason awards: our picks for the winners of the Calder, Jack Adams, and Lady Byng trophies.

Calder Memorial Trophy

Description: The Calder Memorial Trophy is an annual award given to the player selected as the most proficient in his first year of competition in the National Hockey League.

Winner:Ryan Nugent-Hopkins

Runners-Up: Adam Henrique, Gabriel Landeskog (T-3rd), Matt Read (T-3rd)

The Edmonton Oilers have collected more than their share of trophies over the years, but they've managed to avoid ever having a player win Rookie of the Year. According to the Nation Network's writers, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins is on pace to halt that trend.  The 18-year old has been one of the most prolific scorers on not just his team but also in the NHL as a whole, falling just below a point-per-game pace.

Nugent-Hopkins edged out New Jersey Devils forward Adam Henrique by just a single vote, however, indicating how tight a race that once seemed non-existent has become.  The older Henrique is a little more polished, scoring at a comparable clip to Nugent-Hopkins and has been aided by a 10-game slump for the Oilers' rookie (in the 10 games prior to going down to injury, Nugent-Hopkins had picked up no goals, five assists and a minus-5 rating).

Nugent-Hopkins injury has cost him some ground, and if he wants to win this race it is imperative that he hit the ground running when he returns.  Otherwise things could easily go the other way at the end of the year.

Nobody else was close to the top duo; six other rookies received votes with second overall pick Gabriel Landeskog and the Flyers' undrafted gem Matt Read being the next most popular options.

Also in the mix: Cody Hodgson, Craig Smith, Sean Couturier, Adam Larsson

Jack Adams Award

Description: The Jack Adams Award is an annual award presented to the NHL coach adjudged to have contributed the most to his team's success.

Winner:Paul MacLean

Runners-Up: Alain Vigneault, Kevin Dineen (T-3rd), Ken Hitchcock (T-3rd)

The turnaround of the Ottawa Senators has drawn a lot of eyes to their rookie head coach, Paul MacLean, who was previously part of one of the league's most respected coaching groups under Mike Babcock in Detroit. Ottawa entered the year largely viewed as a rebuilding team; today they sit four points out of first in the entire NHL. There's no question that MacLean's team has exceeded the expectations of the vast majority of people.

Kevin Dineen is on this list for similar reasons. Dale Tallon aggressively pursued options for the Florida Panthers in the off-season, adding talent but also overhauling the roster and bringing in a ton of new faces; Dineen has that group working cohesively enough for his team to be in the playoffs right now. Meanwhile, Alain Vigneault once again gets a nod for his work in Vancouver. The Canucks' bench boss employs tactics unseen elsewhere in the league, employing lines in specific zones like no other coach in hockey - allowing the Sedins to rack up scoring totals in prime areas of the ice and tossing defensive specialists like Manny Malhotra to the wolves in their own end. It's a radical style that's been consistently successful for him.

Ken Hitchcock is the most interesting name on the list. He hadn't had a lot of time in St. Louis when this poll was done, and that likely worked against him, but when the award is handed out at the end of the year he'll have had more time with the group. If he continues as he's begun in St. Louis, it will be difficult to imagine him not winning.

Also in the mix: Claude Julien, Dan Bylsma, Claude Noel

Lady Byng Memorial Trophy

Description: The Lady Byng Memorial Trophy is an annual award given to the player adjudged to have exhibited the best type of sportsmanship and gentlemanly conduct combined with a high standard of playing ability.

Winner:Teemu Selanne

Runners-Up: Brian Campbell, Jordan Eberle

The 'lots of points, no penalty minutes' award goes to... a guy with a surprising number of penalty minutes.

The Byng has become something of a joke at the NHL Awards ceremony, the award that nobody cares about, probably because the description above in unfortunately often accurate. It shouldn't be that way; it really should go to a guy like Teemu Selanne, who has shown over a long career that he's a superb player and someone who has exhibited exceptional sportsmanship throughout his career. The NHL is full of those sorts of players, and that - rather than PIM totals - is what should be recognized.

But then there is the counter-argument: players without a lot of penalty minutes typically end up without a lot of penalty minutes because they play the game cleanly. Florida defenseman Brian Campbell has taken just two penalties this season, and has repaid the faith Dale Tallon showed in him by putting together a superb season. Oilers' youngster Jordan Eberle has been a lethal sniper for the team, and can rarely be accused of lacking sportsmanship either.

This was one of the toughest awards because the candidates were so numerous, and our voters submitted a list of 15 names - by far the most of any category in this poll.

Also in the mix: Martin St. Louis, Matt Cooke, Phil Kessel, Kyle Wellwood, Tomas Kaberle, Nicklas Lidstrom, Pavel Datsyuk

 

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Jonathan Willis is a freelance writer. He currently works for Oilers Nation, Sportsnet, the Edmonton Journal and Bleacher Report. He's co-written three books and worked for myriad websites, including Grantland, ESPN, The Score, and Hockey Prospectus. He was previously the founder and managing editor of Copper & Blue.
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#1 Danny Gray
January 19 2012, 10:13AM
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I think the Lady Byng should be renamed the Ron Burgandy Trophy and given to the "classiest" player each season.

I voted for Teemu because he is awesome and everyone loves him.

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#2 Cam Charron
January 19 2012, 10:58AM
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lol matt cooke for byng

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#3 DrDave
January 19 2012, 10:59AM
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Am I the only one who caught Matt Cooke for the Lady Bing? LOL!!!!

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#4 Next up, is Connor McJesus.
January 19 2012, 10:25AM
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*Sigh*

Why can't we discuss the merits of hitting the opponents goaltender in the mask during the pre game warmups....from the Oilers side of center ice of course. Don't want to be breaking any NHL rules. This team could use more bonding opportunities.

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#5 Archaeologuy
January 19 2012, 10:58AM
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Nuge better come back and put all this Henrique silliness to bed.

I know Nuge also plays with some good hockey players, but Henrique is on a line with Parise and Kovalchuk. And I would love to compare all the points that the two players have racked up.

I would be willing to bet some of my hard earned (haha, as if) money that the Nuge had a lot more to do creating those scoring plays than Henrique did.

Ignorant homerism? Maybe, but I know what I see when I watch Nugent-Hopkins, and I seriously doubt that Henrique comes to the table with what the Nuge does.

Oh yeah, also he's 18 yrs old and at the beginning of the year people werent even sure his little body was ready for the NHL

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#6 DrDave
January 19 2012, 10:59AM
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Damn! Beat me by 1 minute!

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#7 Scott in Grande Prairie
January 19 2012, 11:19AM
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I think we can all agree that RNH is the best rookie in the league, but I think we can all agree that we’re all somewhat biased.

And I wouldn’t get your hopes up. There’s an excellent chance that the Nuge might not win it.

The injury, obviously, isn’t helping things, but he’s also geographically-challenged. I have absolutely no proof of this, but my guess is that there are a lot of “voting blocks” amongst the media in the NHL. By this, I mean there are pockets of media that probably are only vaguely aware of goings-on in the league beyond their area. Specifically, I’m talking about the writers out on the eastern seaboard.

So, if that means there are two NJ Devils (Henrique and Larsson) who are contending for the Calder, you can probably count on them sweeping the votes of media in the New York/NJ area, Philadelphia, Boston ... heck, all the way down to Florida. They would have seen Henrique and Larsson play a lot more and (more to the point) they would have heard about their exploits a lot more than the Nuge’s.

Obviously, there will be writers who will simply look at the rookie scoring race and, assuming RNH is leading, will simply mark an X by his name and that’s that. We better hope for a lot of that.

I remember the year (1988-89 season) Brian Leetch beat Trevor Linden for the Calder. Leetch had a great season, but Linden probably deserved it more – led his moribund team to the playoffs - but Trevor never really stood a chance. And, the other great rookie from that year – Joe Sakic – broke his foot two-thirds of the way through the season and basically fell out of contention. But I remember the stories back then suggesting that Leetch’s New York address probably helped him take the Calder because he ended up winning a large “block” of the eastern vote.

Heck, you don’t even have to look at the Calder voting. Remember when Messier won the Hart in 1990 and beat Ray Bourque by, like, two votes? To this day, I’ll never know why it was that close. Anyone who saw Mess play that year – anywhere in the league – should have clued in he was a man on a mission. Bourque had a great year, but Messier had a year that we’re still telling stories about. And yet, his Hart win was nearly done in by a bunch of writers down east who’d only seen him come through town once.

I’m sure there are examples where my harebrained “block” theory can be proven wrong (the Flames, remarkably, have had three Calder winners, including a Russian who was old enough to remember life under Stalin), but I’ll put this to you another way: If Taylor Hall didn’t get hurt last year and managed to outscore Jeff Skinner, I still don’t believe that it would have been enough for Hall to win the Calder.

I want – I know – RNH should win, but I’m also prepared to be disappointed.

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#8 MC Hockey
January 19 2012, 12:03PM
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Blah, blah, blah Ryan Nugent Hopkins. My young son, pictured on my profile, is very good at predicting things and while he cannot yet talk, he tells me "While RNH has played well and put up many points, his team is as usual, languishing in suckageville, while New Jersey is doing well and Mr. Henrique has been very solid so unless he drops off, AH and not RNH will win". Your heard it hear first...

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#9 Canucks Suck
January 19 2012, 02:13PM
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Danny Gray wrote:

I think the Lady Byng should be renamed the Ron Burgandy Trophy and given to the "classiest" player each season.

I voted for Teemu because he is awesome and everyone loves him.

If that happened, Jarome Iginla would win it every year.

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#10 Danny Gray
January 19 2012, 02:40PM
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@Canucks Suck

Not until Teemu retires.

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#11 BlacqueJacque
January 19 2012, 08:42PM
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I know from my own former experience as a journalist that fluff pieces are easy page views and revenue, but if you really are a sports journalist, a hockey journalist, maybe you can do an actual insightful analysis as to why the Oilers are seemingly unable to penetrate the opposing zone in recent games.

Or you can write up another article on how the season is progressing so far.

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#12 DSF
January 19 2012, 09:50PM
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Henrique is by far the best overall rookie...it's not even close.

Don't make me show you the math again.

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#13 OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F
January 19 2012, 10:10PM
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BlacqueJacque wrote:

I know from my own former experience as a journalist that fluff pieces are easy page views and revenue, but if you really are a sports journalist, a hockey journalist, maybe you can do an actual insightful analysis as to why the Oilers are seemingly unable to penetrate the opposing zone in recent games.

Or you can write up another article on how the season is progressing so far.

Luckly he's a blogger, not a journalist.

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#14 OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F
January 19 2012, 10:10PM
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DSF wrote:

Henrique is by far the best overall rookie...it's not even close.

Don't make me show you the math again.

RNH >>>> Henrique

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#15 DSF
January 19 2012, 10:52PM
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OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F wrote:

RNH >>>> Henrique

Based on what?

Can't score on the road.

Pedestrian at EV strength.

PP specialist.

That's Rob Shremp hockey.

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#16 OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F
January 19 2012, 10:58PM
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DSF wrote:

Based on what?

Can't score on the road.

Pedestrian at EV strength.

PP specialist.

That's Rob Shremp hockey.

RNH >>>>> Henrique

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#17 RKD
January 20 2012, 01:27PM
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I think Darryl Sutter's name should be in the mix for Jack Adams.

Since he's come back, he is now 8-1-6. One regulation loss in 15 games is very impressive.

If he can lead the Kings to overtake the Sharks for the Pacific division title, he's got a shot.

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