If you missed the NHL Awards last night, you missed a much improved version of last year's yawn inducing show, albeit a little too "MTV'd up" for my liking (though HM is a big fan of performer Snoop Dogg, a rabid hockey fan in his own right - I like my rap old school). Big, big improvement from last year's show which featured a random performance from Chaka Kahn. Comedian Jay Mohr was actually pretty funny too - the only issue I saw is that the winners didn't have enough time for their acceptance speeches due to some of the extracurricular acts. It felt like a big hook was going to appear from behind a stage curtain and pull 6'8" Tyler Myers of the Buffalo Sabres off the stage during his acceptance speech for winning the Calder Trophy for best rookie.
Several of the winners were cut off by the awards music in the middle of their speeches, including our own Alex Ovechkin.
No problem for Ovi though - he was going to finish thanking all his peeps and indeed he did, even thanking the city of Las Vegas for showing him and his friends a "good time." Ovechkin beat out rival Sidney Crosby and supertwin Henrik Sedin to win his third consecutive Ted Lindsay Award (formerly known as the Lester B. Pearson Award). This award is especially significant as it recognizes the player voted as most outstanding by his fellow players. Congrats to Ovi on earning his third Ted Lindsay Award - he becomes the third player to win the NHLPA’s honor three straight years, joining Wayne Gretzky (1982-85) and Guy Lafleur (1976-78).
Another extraordinary Capital (unfortunately not for long) also took home some hardware from Las Vegas. Jose Theodore won the Masterton Trophy which honors the NHL player who best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey. Theodore is the first Capital to receive the award.
Theo and his wife Stephanie Cloutier dealt with unimaginable personal tragedy last August when their two-month old son, Chace, passed away from respiratory complications related to a premature birth. In November, he started Saves for Kids, a fundraising program that benefits the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Children's National Medical Center in Northwest, D.C., where Chace was treated and where Theodore and Cloutier spent most of their time during their son’s 54-day life. Theodore pledged money for each save, win and shutout he made during the season, and his donations were also matched by F.H. Furr Plumbing Heating Air Conditioning Inc., a Lennox Premier Dealer. The Capitals fan base and Washington Capitals Charities also pledged their support, and Jose presented a check worth $35,000 to Children’s National Medical Center on Friday, May 7.
On the ice Theodore played 47 games and had his best season since winning the Hart and Vezina trophies in 2001-02. He posted a 30-7-7 record, 2.81 goals-against average and .911 save percentage in helping lead Washington to the club’s first Presidents’ Trophy. His winning percentage (.761) was the highest of any goaltender in franchise history. He finished the season 20-0-3 with a 2.58 goals-against average and a .922 save percentage in games after Jan. 13, setting a team record for most decisions (23) without a regulation loss.
Theodore's heart wrenching acceptance speech was enough to bring tears to the eyes of everyone watching - his strength and perserverance in the face of such a personal tragedy is an inspiration to many and he will be sorely missed by the Capitals and their devoted fans.
Unfortunately, Caps defenseman Mike Green came in second to Norris Trophy winner Duncan Keith of the Chicago Blackhawks, but he was named to the NHL First All-Star Team along with captain Alex Ovechkin.
Ovi did not capture this year's Hart Tophy for MVP, but the honor did go to one of HM's other faves. Henrik Sedin, one half of the dynamic duo Sedin twins, recieved the award in a year that saw him post a career-high 112 points. He was most gracious in his acceptance speech, acknowledging the amazing talent of his fellow nominees Ovechkin and Crosby and, as HM pointed out to her own surly teenage twins, thanking his twin brother who plays an invaluable role in his on-ice success and vice-versa.
Other award winners during last evening's star-studded soiree include: Dave Tippett of the Phoenix Coyotes with the Jack Adams (Coach of the Year) Award; Ryan Miller of the Buffalo Sabres with the Vezina Trophy (Best Goaltender); Pavel Datsyuk of the Detroit Red Wings with the Selke Trophy (Best defensive forward); Sidney Crosby (yeah, we know who he is) with the Mark Messier Leadership Award; Shane Doan of the Phoenix Coyotes with the King Clancy Award for charitable and humanitarian contributions; and Martin St. Louis of Tampa Bay with his first Lady Byng Award given to the game's most gentlemanly player.
And HM's "quote of the night" award goes to none other than Jeremy Roenick. When co-presenter Eddie Olczyk teased JR that he'd made a bet that Roenick would cry during their presentation (based on JR's tearful monologue immediately following the Blackhawks' Stanley Cup win), JR retorted "You'd cry too if you had to be in the booth with Mike Milbury all day." SNAP!
Speaking of the Blackhawks, the Stanley Cup champions won't boast the same roster on opening night as the one seen during the Cup parade down Michigan Avenue a few weeks ago. Hockey types knew that the Hawks would have to trade some of their talented players away due to salary cap issues and the trades have already started. One of the Hawk's young playoff standouts, Dustin Bfyuglien, was dealt to the Atlanta Thrashers along with mates Brent Sopel and Ben Eager (plus a Chicago prospect). With the 2010 NHL Draft starting this weekend, things are definitely heating up (even more so with this hellacious sweltering heat wave that's overtaken the East Coast). Hold on to your hats, hockey fans - and make sure to hydrate for the ride....