The regular season Calgary Flames and playoff variety Calgary Flames were two very different teams. One of them had 50 wins (good), and one of them nearly got no wins (not good). Since the playoffs have ended and the playoff Flames got zero recognition, let us turn to the National Hockey League Awards and see if any Flames have a chance to win some hardware this season.
There are two parts to the NHL Awards. There’s the usual ceremony on Wednesday evening, in which Mark Giordano and Sean Monahan will potentially win some awards. Before that though, the NHL Fan Awards will be unveiled at 10 a.m. MT. Mikael Backlund is up for one of those, as are the Flames as a whole for a GIF of some good boys drinking purple Gatorade. These awards clearly hold the same prestige as the standard awards. Maurice Richard, eat your heart out.
Now for a more serious look at all the nominations.
Goal of the Year
First up is the Goal of the Year award, in which Backlund’s filthy snipe against the Washington Capitals is a finalist. Sometimes, you just have to take care of business all by yourself. Backlund makes a great pass to none other than Backlund, and then he honours his Swedish heritage with “The Forsberg”.
Just a filthy goal by Backlund. pic.twitter.com/1djpiBme98
— NHL GIFs (@NHLGIFs) February 2, 2019
GIF of the Year
This award technically has the Calgary Flames as the nominee, but it’s a GIF of the top line doing what they do best: sharing some sweet purple sports drink. Though it perhaps would have been funnier to have seen the GIF where Monahan gets a face full of Gatorade nominated, you have to respect the origin story of Purple ‘Rade.
Team work makes the dream work. pic.twitter.com/QUSej5uwb6
— NHL GIFs (@NHLGIFs) December 1, 2018
Will any Flame see a victory here? That really depends on readers like you, and if you voted in the awards.
Next up are the more illustrious awards, which may have a little bit more pomp and circumstance to them.
James Norris Memorial Trophy
First Awarded: 1953-54
Award Given To: “Defense player who demonstrates throughout the season the greatest all-round ability in the position”
Award Given By: Professional Hockey Writers Association
Past Flames Winners: None
The case for Mark Giordano to win the Norris has been a storyline all season long, and why not? The season that the captain had would be elite by any standards, but adding in the fact that it came during his age 35 season is nothing short of remarkable.
74 points in 78 games, a 57.34 CF%, and a +5.17 CF% REL are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to describing his season. The only other defenders to score as many in their age 35 seasons are the legendary Ray Bourque and Nicklas Lidstrom. Giordano leaves everything he has on the ice, and yet finds a way to contribute just as much off the ice. Oh, and he found the time to score four shorthanded goals, which is nuts.
There’s been a pattern over the last few years of awarding the Norris trophy to guys who are due, but this is a case where that seems like it can play out while still awarding it to the best defender this season. Despite the quality competition going up against Giordano in Brent Burns and Victor Hedman, odds are high to win here.
Mark Messier Leadership Award
First Awarded: 2006-07
Award Given To: “Individual who leads by positive example through on-ice performance, motivation of team members and a dedication to community activities and charitable causes
Award Given By: Mark Messier (and occasionally, a sponsor like Cold-FX or Bridgestone)
Past Flames Winners: Jarome Iginla (2008-09)
This one may not hold the same prestige as the decades-old Norris Trophy, but it would still be pretty neat to have Giordano’s leadership skills acknowledged once again, even if just by Messier. According to many Flames players, Giordano is “Mr. Everything” to the club, and that is very apparent to those of us not privy to the locker room.
This isn’t the first time that Giordano was a finalist, as he was a runner-up in 2016-17 when Nick Foligno took home the award. Perhaps the second time at bat will be enough to convince Messier to award the captain the trophy. Odds are relatively high here, but this one feels like anything could happen and no one would lose much sleep over it.
Lady Byng Memorial Trophy
First Awarded: 1924-25
Award Given To: “Player adjudged to have exhibited the best type of sportsmanship and gentlemanly conduct combined with a high standard of playing ability”
Award Given By: Professional Hockey Writers Association
Past Flames Winners: Joe Mullen (1986-87, 1988-89), Jiri Hudler (2014-15), Johnny Gaudreau (2016-17)
We’re about to learn if the PHWA sees being boring as the same as being gentlemanly, as Sean Monahan is up for his first ever NHL award. It would be neat to see Monahan win this year, two years after Gaudreau and four years after Hudler, as a fun way to spiritually reunite the “Hudreaunahan” line from the wild 2014-15 run.
The reason that Monahan is up for the award is because on the way to scoring 34 goals and amassing 82 points (23 of which were on the power play), he only took six minor penalties. He scored 20 goals for the sixth straight season, and has been a rock of consistency for the Flames since breaking into the league as a fresh-faced teenager.
He’ll have some tough competition in Alexander Barkov, and Ryan O’Reilly is also a finalist for the award. The nomination represents an odd chain of events for O’Reilly over the past few seasons including allegedly crashing into a Tim Hortons in the middle of the night (he was acquitted of criminal charges), telling the media he had lost his love for the game near the end of his Buffalo stint, then being traded to St. Louis and winning a Stanley Cup. Odds for a Flames win are lower than Giordano, but it would not be an upset if Monahan took home the Byng.