Friday, June 23, 2006


Joe was voted the league MVP by the Hockey Writers Association, otherwise known as the Hart Trophy. He also got the Art Ross trophy, for most points during the season, with 125. Jonathan Cheechoo won the Rocket Richard trophy (most goals). Only the 3rd, 4th, and 5th NHL trophies in the history of the Sharks franchise. Nabokov won the Calder (top rookie) in 2001, and Tony Granato won the Masterson (top comeback player) in 1997. The major trophies are the Hart, Norris, Selke (top defensive forward), Calder, Vezina (top goalie), and Adams (top coach). The Ross, Richard, and Jennings trophies are based on statistical results, so there's no voting. Everybody knows who is winning at any given time.

There are a bunch of what I would call "lesser" awards given too. The Lady Byng, Pearson (MVP voted by players), Masterson, and King Clancy (leadership) are among those. Actually, I don't know that the Lady Byng is even good- it's generally given out to a good to great offensive player with very few penalty minutes. In other words, it's the "wuss" award. Marleau coming in 3rd out of 3 is actually a good thing. I don't mean to sound like sour grapes, but do you know who's won 5 Lady Byng trophies? Wayne Gretzky. I've never heard Wayne as a winner of "4 Stanley Cups, 8 Hart trophies, and 5 Lady Byng trophies". In hockey, taking the fewest penalty minutes is not a good thing- it means you don't get nasty enough.

I'm actually pretty surprised that Thornton won. Jagr was leading the points race until very late in the season, and he nearly won the Richard until Cheechoo overcame him. Jagr was more or less written off as a spoiled superstar who lost the touch, and he came out roaring this year for the Blueshirts. Given the general east coast bias in hockey, and the fact that Jagr nearly won both the points and the goals race, I figured he'd win. But I think the Devils' destruction of the Rangers in the first round hurt his chances.

Joe definitely deserved it more. The Sharks were on a 10 game losing streak when we traded for him, and we played roughly .700 hockey the rest of the season. There's no doubt in my mind that if we didn't make that trade, we would not have made the playoffs, and possibly finished last in the division. Plus combine Joe's amazing hands and passing ability with Cheechoo's fantastic release and pinpoint accuracy, and you have one of the top lines in the NHL. He clearly made the players around him better.

One of my favorite things about hockey is they actually name stuff after people, and it has meaning. It's not the NHL championship trophy, it's the Stanley Cup. It's not the top defenseman trophy, it's the Norris. And while other sports have names for their awards, in the NHL those names are used primarily. In the hockey world, you don't say Chris Pronger won MVP and top D in 2000, you say he won the Hart and Norris trophies, and everyone knows what that means. It's just kinda cool. I wish the NHL kept the old division and conference names too, but I understand that can be pretty confusing. It makes sense that the Sharks are in the Pacific division in the Western conference, but it would be tougher to remember that the Blackhawks were in the Smythe division in the Campbell conference.

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