One of my favorite nights of year. 80+ degrees. Beautiful night. And we're inside celebrating the best of the best game there is - the NHL Awards Show.
And would we have it any other way, hockey fans?
Now, the random thoughts of a random hockey fan...
* I actually like Jay Mohr. I think he's pretty funny. However, we must assume that - 70%? of the nominees - have no idea what he's talking about. Because they're European...of course.
* I consider myself above average at naming Canadian celebrities. I am pretty sure I had no idea Natasha Henstridge was among them. Points to her. And bonus points for being from Newfoundland.
* Again, not being a fan of Detroit, I lack the ability to have non-biased opinions towards the Datsyuks and Zetterbergs of the league. And as much as I hate the same player winning something over and over...I have to say, I look forward to Pavel Datsyuk making speeches because, well, he's just too damn adorable. Seriously, how cute is he, although, thankfully, his English does get better every year.
* I'm really not a fan of changing names of long standing NHL Trophys, I'll say right now. So I may be caught calling the Ted Lindsay the Lester Pearson for the next year, two, ten, twenty - old habits die hard. Regardless...
* Ovechkin won. Which is always a plus in my book. Why? Because he is dynamic, he is fun, and he is talented. No one can deny that. That being said, do you think, after the last three years of Ovechkin winning this award that a statement has been made? I mean Crosby won, and the next 3 years have been Ovechkin, regardless of the fact Crosby won hockey's holy grail last year. Ovechkin, his peers keep saying, is really - that good. Just saying...
* Meanwhile, that may have been one of the most up and down, backwards and forwards awards speeches ever given, that Ovechkin. I had never heard the story of his brother; obviously that's not new news here. But regardless, well deserved, and again, the peers are speaking here. Dynamic Alex, he is the most valuable player in the league.
* Oh good, someone from the Daily Line. The one that knows something about hockey, I hope...oh nevermind. Selfish promotion. Guy has no clue, and to be honest, jokes were not funny.
* Why does the NHL not do more of the skits like the Ryan [Getzlaf], [Bobby] Ryan variety. Hilarious. And showcases one of the many reasons we love hockey and its players...they are human, and they are damn funny. Great stuff! Getzlaf with his backwards cap. Poor Bobby Ryan getting no love, but yet, Jersey represent. I repeat - great stuff. We need more of this!
* As much as I sometimes loathe Sidney Crosby facetime...because, honestly Sid...loosen up a bit - I love Stamkos face time. He's so refreshing. You know, just like vanilla, which I've heard, he loves, even though he, umm, isn't vanilla in personality, you know. ;)
* And who had the time on when the first Ghost Whisperer connection joke would happen? Oh wait, I'm the only one that watches the show. Too bad. Good stuff.
* Funny that Brodeur, Bryzgalov, and Miller all wear #30. And which #30 would win? The Canadian? The Russian? Nope. The American! Big fan of Ryan Miller and not, NOT!, just because of the fantasy points he's garnered me over the last few years (although thank you for that Ryan). Because he's one of the good guys. And good goalies. Well deserved Vezina there. And good speech too.
* I pause to thank the NHL Awards show for showing the bestest commercial ever...you know, the one that features Pete in a goal celebration hug with his teammates. Thank you fans...THANK YOU NHL!!
* I love the Masterton Trophy for these moments. Had to tear up for Jose Theodore. Did a great job speaking of something that is obviously very difficult. Thoughts are with him. On more personal notes, watched the injury to Kurtis Foster, and what he did takes guts and perserverance. And as a HUGE Jed Ortmeyer fan, major props to him. Many others would have turned it in, but he wants everything to be on his terms. One of my favorite Rangers, and favorite hockey players. They get it. They all get it.
* We <3 Shane Doan. Why? He may have been humble - as he always is - but Shane Doan is one heck of a leader, one heck of a captain, and one heck of a human being. Hats off to Shane Doan here. A very deserving King Clancy Award winner, and one of my favorite captains. A great guy. Who doesn't <3 Shane Doan?
* Well, there you have it folks. Not an awards show complete without a highlight reel image of a New York Ranger...looking foolish. Thank you Michal Rozsival.
* Few people probably know who the guy who awarded the Lady Byng Trophy was. I am all too familiar. Let's give it up for Kevin Zegers...the kid from Air Bud. Ontario native and huge Leafs fan. It's nice they let real hockey fans present at these award shows, no? You could tell, he was thrilled to be on stage with Martin St. Louis.
* Speaking of Marty...I still don't get the Lady Byng. And not for reasons you may think. It's just that - these guys are awarded for being great players and taking like, what, 6 penalties a year. Look, I'm a Rangers fan. Most of these guys take 6 penalties in a weekend home and home. So I am fundamentally unable to process, yet I admire from afar. Marty had a good speech too. Christmas cards to the refs, courtesy Brad Richards. Be home for dinner tomorrow. Good stuff.
* The night was going so well until...well. Look. We all knew Crosby had to win something. Because well...yeah. It's just painful to have him stand next to Messier. It is for me. At least he said he looked up to him for his leadership, for a moment. You know, until he went on to Yzerman. I beg to state the obvious here. Crosby, were you even alive when Messier was doing his thing in Edmonton? Yeah, not really. Just saying...
* JR said we'd all cry if we were stuck with Mike Milbury for 4 hours in a row...Well, you know, he has a point there.
* As much as we all respect Nick Lidstrom - and if we don't, we should - it is nice to see a new crop of players being honored with nominations for the Norris. All well deserving and names we'll see for years. Duncan Keith, wonderful to see. "Keep your hands off, Ovie." Oh sigh. Just a shame that they cut off his speech. Unfair, really. What else could be so important. Congrats Duncan.
* Nice to see Miller get more recognition. I say, not as a Sabres fan, but as a Miller fan, this is a guy who gets it, who is VERY involved in the league, and in the community. He gets it. And we should embrace that and thank him. Good show for Ryan Miller. Long overdue.
* Happy Henrik (and yes I can tell them apart) Sedin won the Hart (and not, you know, just cause Crosby didn't), but because new blood. New blood. And he thanked so many wonderful people. Naslund, who again, Rangers fans didn't really get to see, but was a decade long fixture in Vancouver, and very vital to that team's growth. And of course, a personal favorite of mine in the great Trevor Linden. Good show. A shame the poor guy felt rushed to give his speech for one of the top awards, but well deserved.
So overall, a very good show. Highly entertaining. I said two years ago, when this blog started, that I felt the NHL Awards were becoming Americanized. I still, to some degree, hold to that. And it's a fact. But this year was very entertaining. Too entertaining perhaps to be held to an hour and a half. I find it slightly embarassing that they had to cut off speeches to keep the show to an hour and a half. What Goldie Hawn movie was so important that it had to air at 9pm precisely, I don't know. But overall, an enjoyable show.
As a hockey fan in the States, we've been blessed as the years go on with more coverage of the sport we love. I remember when the airing of the Awards show on a feed from the CBC is all we got, and I was so greatful. Now we get NHL Network and Draft Night coverage and I feel...overwhelmed in being so blessed. This used to be it for fans like me, a night like tonight, and now, thankfully, it is one of many nights we get to enjoy.
The point here is, something I always felt strongly about on this night, and feel tonight just as much - We are priviledged. Priviledged to call hockey our favorite sport. Priviledged to have this sport define so much of what is good in our worlds.
Things change in our lives, but hockey remains. A solid, unifying force connecting us all. Nights like this remind me of that.
As we watch Guy Lafleur and Duncan Keith, Martin St. Louis, and Dave Tippett, I am presented with the fact that there are only a select group of people that a) know who these guys are, and b) appreciate what they stand for.
I'm always humbled and proud to stand among that select group of hockey fans. So much changes from day to day, week to week, year to year. Hockey remains. I'm thankful for the one ever-changing, yet never changing, element in my life. It's a connection I feel, and a connection I embrace. I am so thankful for hockey. And so thankful for all those that feel that connection too.
We <3 hockey.
Thank you for the game we love, the best game in the world.