That's What She Said: NHL, um, awards
We're a quarter of the way through the 2013-14 NHL season, which means it's time to hand out the (mostly meaningless, totally arbitrary) TWSS First Quarter Awards.
ESPN.com NHL analysts Scott Burnside and Pierre LeBrun have already presented their early picks for the league's real awards (Alexander Steen for the Hart Trophy and Josh Harding for the Vezina, among them), so now it's time to have a little fun with hockey's first quarter.
Just like the Hart and Vezina, named for David Hart and Georges Vezina, each of the TWSS First Quarter Awards is named after a famous (or infamous) pioneer of the game.
The Bobby Hull Award
Winner: NHL general managers
The Bobby Hull Stroke of Genius Award is named after the Blackhawks great for his stroke-of-genius slap shot, one of the hardest and most wicked of all time. NHL general managers had their own stroke of genius last week, when they discussed lengthening the overtime session. The goal is to try to decrease the number of games decided by a shootout (a practice that makes about as much sense as deciding an NBA game with a postgame 3-point contest). According to the Toronto Sun, 16 percent of this season's first-quarter games ended in a shootout, putting us on track for the most shootouts in a season since the rule was introduced in 2005.
The Don Cherry Award
Winner: Reading Royals
When it comes to the TWSS First Quarter Awards, there are no rules. I can even give an NHL award to a team that isn't in the NHL ("I'm drunk with power!! Bring me my slippers and a scotch!!"). CBC announcer Don Cherry also knows about breaking the rules, as he routinely ignores the laws of fashion by wearing blazers that make Craig Sager's suits look downright conservative.
So I say "Screw the rules!" and give the Cherry Award for Best Dressed Team to the Washington Capitals' ECHL affiliate, the Reading Royals. A slow clap and a standing O for the "ugly Christmas sweater" jerseys the Royals will wear Dec. 14. (And a high-five to Yahoo's Sean Leahy for spreading this special brand of Christmas joy.)
The Ken Dryden Award
Winner: Ben Scrivens
While we're makin' and breakin' rules here, let's slip in a total homer award from this Cornell grad: The Ken Dryden Smarty Pants Award. Los Angeles Kings backup netminder Ben Scrivens is the clear winner of the award, named after Hall of Fame goalie Dryden, also a Cornell alum. In his four starts in place of the injured Jonathan Quick, Scrivens, a.k.a. The Professor, has posted a 4-0-0 record with a 1.00 goals-against average and .963 save percentage. Big Red in the house!
The Jeremy Roenick Award
Winner: Western Conference
In honor of the pure domination Roenick displayed in EA Sports' NHL '94 ("It's not so much me as it's Roenick. He's good!"), the Roenick Award for soul-crushing supremacy goes to the NHL's revamped Western Conference. The new Central and Pacific divisions combined for an 82-36-13 record against the Atlantic and Metropolitan divisions of the Eastern Conference. If the season had ended at the quarter mark, not a single East team would have qualified for the playoffs in the West.
The Tim Thomas Award
Winner: Ray Emery
Three seasons ago, Tim Thomas won the Stanley Cup and Conn Smythe honors as playoff MVP, and was almost universally beloved for his blue-collar story of success. That offseason, he drew the ire of fans for turning down an invite to the White House, skipped the 2012-13 season and now finds himself backstopping the lowly Panthers, looking like a long shot to make the U.S. Olympic team.
His "honor," the Tim Thomas Precipitous Drop Award, goes to fellow netminder Ray Emery, who made headlines for all the wrong reasons earlier this month. The Flyers goalie, who played a big role in the Blackhawks' record points streak to start last season, has gone from the cream of the crop in the Central to Metropolitan Division punching bag. While his team has been taking a hit in the standings, Emery was the one delivering the blows against Capitals netminder Braden Holtby, who didn't want to fight Emery in a Nov. 1 clash, but wasn't given a choice. This award bestows upon its recipient the same honor and glory as a Razzie, or perhaps even a Darwin Award.
The Lanny McDonald Award
Winner: Karl Alzner
The Lanny McDonald Award for Achievement in Facial Hair Growth goes to Capitals defenseman Karl Alzner, who is absolutely dominating the league's Movember mustache competition. Not only does Alzner possess enough follicular fortitude to grow a Fu Manchu-style 'stache, he even tried to dye his lip sweater blond to pay homage to the famously mustachioed Hulk Hogan. That's dedication.
The Pocket Rocket Award
Winner: Martin St. Louis
The Henri Richard "Little Man, Big Moment" Award goes to Tampa Bay Lightning captain Martin St. Louis. Earlier this week, the 5-foot-8 St. Louis played his 1,000th NHL game, 20 years after going undrafted in 1993. A Stanley Cup, a Hart Trophy and a few Lady Byngs later, St. Louis is one of just 16 undrafted players to hit the 1,000-game mark and one of 286 overall. (The 5-foot-7 Richard, a.k.a. the Pocket Rocket, who entered the league before the draft was instituted, finished his career with 1,256.)
The Green Men Award
Winner: Drunk Helmet Guy
Routinely awarded to the truly intolerable, inadvisably spandex-clad Vancouver Green Men, this award is presented to the worst fan(s) in the league. After one quarter of the season, this drunken Blackhawks fan receives the top honor after snatching and wearing Winnipeg Jets forward Adam Pardy's helmet.
An honorable mention goes to the woman sitting next to Drunk Helmet Guy, who followed up his helmet theft by pouring her beer on Pardy's head. Stay classy, lady!