Wednesday, May 23, 2007

The Sporting News hands out its hockey awards

Unlike their compatriots at NBC, The Sporting News finished the job before posting the results and not a horse wandered in the way.

Tuesday saw the American sports publication present its annual Hockey Awards, with a few expected names making the grade (hello there Sidney) and a few interesting selections in the hockey management category.

Votes were made by NHL players and executives in their respective categories, with no team allowed to vote for their own players and no player allowed to vote for their own name. In the player categories there would be 210 potential voters for the Sporting News, management provided 39 names on the registration list.

The full issue comes out on Wednesday at newsstands across the continent, here’s a sneak preview of who made the Sporting News list of 2006-07

Not surprisingly Sidney Crosby received the nod as the Player of the Year, clear and away the top choice of voters, receiving 110 of the 210 votes, his next nearest rival was Vincent Lecavalier who received 24 votes. It truly has been the year of Sid the Kid, he became the force on ice that everyone said he would be and off the ice he’s developing the kind of buzz that launched Gretzky back in those halcyon Edmonton days. A testimony to his impact on the scene this year is that vote total where more than half the eligible voters in the league, his fellow peers picked the kid from Nova Scotia as the Player of the Year, somehow we suspect that the Sporting News may wish to keep the biography handy, they most likely will be using it from time to time.

Rookie of the year went to Crosby’s team mate in Pittsburgh, Evgeni Malkin, who weaved magic through the NHL this year, a member and key component of one of the more exciting teams to be built in the last few years. Malkin’s constant presence this year on the scoring sheets and highlight reels was good enough for 121 of the 210 votes cast. The next closest newbie on the scene was Paul Stastny who collected 49 votes from his fellow players.

In the coaching category Nashville’s Barry Trotz trotted off with the award, having been selected by 5 of the 22 who took the time to vote. With thirty teams in the NHL, somehow eight votes were either not cast or went missing. Or perhaps they were the remaining NHL coaches winding down the playoffs, too busy to take time to mark an X. The Pens Michel Therrien was second with 3 and ½ votes, leading us to wonder what you have to do wrong to gain only half a vote. Some fellow lodge member in the coaching fraternity has an interesting sense of humour.

While the Preds made a rather early exit from the Stanley Cup playoffs this year, they continued their winning ways at the ballot box. David Poile was named executive of the year, as the Nashville Executive Vice-President and GM picked up 11 of the 39 votes cast, Buffalo’s Darcy Reiger was second best (possibly a trend in Buffalo?) with 9 votes.

To wrap up their Hockey salute this year, the Sporting News all star team was announced, Sidney Crosby of Pittsburgh got the nod at centre, Dany Heatley of the Sens was chosen as the Left Winger of choice, Martin St. Louis would be patrolling the Right wing after the vote count. On defence the two defencemen that squared off in the Western Final were selected by the Sporting News, Niklas Lidstrom from Detroit and Scott Niedermayer of the Ducks received the votes to hold down a spot on the blue line. And guarding the nets, a perennial all star Martin Brodeur from the Devils.

As is the case in any awards show, the public have more than a few comments to share with the “experts” (even if in this case we guess the voters actually do have some knowledge of the game), found along the bottom of the website story, you should be sure to read along to see how the selections fared in the ballot box of public opinion.

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