The NHL Awards are coming tomorrow night in Las Vegas and I'll be one of probably thousands tuning in and putting up with another year of the comedy stylings of Jay Mohr so I can find out which of the awards the Red Wings will be robbed of and whether the voters are dumb enough to have given the Vezina to anybody but Tim Thomas. There are a few awards which hold interest to Red Wings fans, as Nicklas Lidstrom will find out whether his defensive trophy will be given to somebody less deserving pretty close to the same time he finds out whether the fact that he wouldn't make a stink about it is well-known enough around the league to earn him a different piece of hardware. Pavel Datsyuk will be there defending his Selke title and no doubt have the best possible acceptance speech ready if deemed worthy of the title of best defensive forward in the league.
Here at Winging It In Motown, we don't like the idea of Red Wings players not winning every award. So, we've decided that just like an upset Lance Armstrong, we're going to take our ball and go home. We all got together in our secret
manor cave clubhouse and have come up with a set of Wings-specific awards to hand to our favorite guys. Everybody was given a 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place vote for each award. First place was worth 5 points, Second worth 3, and third place worth 1 point in the standings. At the end of the voting, we tallied up the scores and named our winners.
Some awards were more tightly-contested than others. Heck, we even had trouble naming a couple of them. Follow us through the jump and find out who our winners were.
The Terry Sawchuk Award for Best Red Wings Goaltender
Winner: Jimmy Howard (25 points)
This was among the easiest of the bunch. Previous years may have been more difficult to decide and future years could go back that way (hopefully not), but there is no question that Jimmy Howard was miles ahead of his competition. This was the only award where all five of us who voted (Robocop is off solving murders and sexing models) matched ballots perfectly. Howard may have struggled through times with what people wanted to call a sophomore slump, but he played damn well for the Wings this season.
Runners-Up: Joey Macdonald (15 points) Chris Osgood (5 points)
The Mebdeech Award for Worst Overall Red Wings Defenseman
Winner: Jonathan Ericsson (25 points)
Another runaway winner, Big Rig's good team-influenced plus/minus statistic was just about the only thing he had going for him in a year he was supposed to be much better. Salei's late season struggles and Doug Janik's inability to play in enough games to qualify could not overcome the turnovers, the penalties, the missed assignments and the overall suck he brought night-in and night-out. Godspeed Jonny E, at least you're still pretty.
Runners-Up: Ruslan Salei (13 Points) Doug Janik (7 points)
The Nicklas Lidstrom Award for Best Overall Red Wings Defenseman
Winner: Nicklas Lidstrom (25 points)
We named the award after him, you're damn sure that he's going to be the one winning it. Lidstrom played against tougher competition with the least help of any defenseman on the team and still ended up a Norris Trophy nominee at age 40. The recent news of his re-signing caused weather patterns to change in the Upper Peninsula as the entirety of Red Wings nation breathed a huge sigh of relief upon hearing the news. The captain of the Wings has poise and confidence like nobody else and let's face it, watching him defend against odd-man rushes actually became fun this season. It's just like being on a roller-coaster: you're scared of what could happen, but you know that you're completely safe when Lidstrom's back there defending.
Runners-Up: Niklas Kronwall (12 points) Brad Stuart (5 points) Brian Rafalski (3 points)
The Pavel Datsyuk Award for Best Red Wings Defensive Forward
Winner: Pavel Datsyuk (25 points)
We had to put it to a vote as to whether we wanted to call this one the Datsyuk or the Fedorov. Ultimately, Datsyuk's three Selke trophies trumped Fedorov's two and the award got named after this year's recipient. It's not hard to see why Datsyuk deserved this award. Like I said in his season recap, Datsyuk's presence in the game was good for a half-a-goal drop in the Wings' GAA. Darren Helm is a worthy challenger who may take the crown away from him sometime, but he hasn't arrived just yet.
Runners-Up: Darren Helm (15 points) Patrick Eaves (2 points) Valtteri Filppula (2 points) Henrik Zetterberg (1 point)
The Tomas Kopecky Memorial Award for Most Disappointing Red Wings Forward
Winner: Jiri Hudler (23 points)
For the record, it's called a "memorial" award because Kopecky is dead to me. Not many Wings' forwards had such lofty expectations placed on them with such low results. Then again, not many Wings forwards were among the scoring leaders of the KHL last year. Hudler's return to Detroit was supposed to cement a three-line scoring behemoth. Instead, the little guy found himself out of the lineup at times and struggling to find chemistry with anybody. Sure, he ended up finding some when placed on a line with Pavel Datsyuk, but Datsyuk is like the water of team chemistry, he reacts with everything. Mike Modano made a strong second-place push, but turned out less disappointing than the guy who didn't suffer an unfortunate tendon-cut in his wrist.
Runners-Up: Mike Modano (17 points) Justin Abdelkader (2 points) Johan Franzen (2 points) Valtteri Fillpula (1 point)
The Marian Hossa Award for Biggest Red Wings Disappearing Act in the Playoffs
Winner: Jiri Hudler (21 points)
This one and the Kopecky went hand-in-hand this season as a season-long disappointment at least managed consistency in putting up fewer points than Patrick Eaves and taking only half as many shot attempts as Val Filppula through the Wings' run. Abdelkader and Franzen battled it out for #2 between a guy who got hurt and lost his effectiveness and a guy who just. Could. Not. Stop. Hi-sticking. People. Being healthy and managing to win a race against a cripple and a spaz is worthy of this award. Thanks, Jiri!
Runners-Up: Johan Franzen (11 points) Justin Abdelkader (10 points) Mike Modano, Jonathan Ericsson, Brian Rafalski (1 point)
The Doug Brown Award for Best Red Wings Bottom-Six Forward
Winner: Darren Helm (23 points)
This one was very easy to vote at the top, since Helm put up career highs in goals, assists, and religions-founded-in-honor-of. Some of the trouble voting for this award came from the tough nature of defining what exactly is a "bottom-six" guy on a team that's built more to have a middle-six group. Danny Cleary took a first-place vote from Helm and likely would have gotten more points if most of us would have considered him bottom-six like perhaps we should have. Still, for a guy who is definitely considered bottom-six, Helm had an absolutely killer year for Detroit and is a huge part of the glue that holds the team together.
Runners-Up: Patrick Eaves (13 points) Danny Cleary (5 points) Drew Miller (4 points)
The Vladimir Konstantinov Award for Best Red Wings Defensive Defenseman
Winner: Nicklas Lidstrom (21 points)
The tightest vote among all the awards, Lidstrom pulls it off for pretty much the thing I said about him defending odd-man rushes above. His 62 points was impressive, but there's something special about the way he plays defense. To truly appreciate what Lidstrom does in his own end, you have to think like a deep-space astronomer looking for black holes. It's impossible to directly observe one, since it's really just an absence of light, so instead you have to look at all the effects it has on the things around it to be fully aware of what it does. Also, like a black hole, Lidstrom has the power to bend the laws of time and space itself. Stuart may have played goalie better than Lidstrom, but to think that a guy who plays so well in his own end only taking 10 minor penalties in a season should at least partially melt your brain.
Runners-Up: Brad Stuart (19 points) Niklas Kronwall (4 points) Ruslan Salei (1 point)
The Henry Rowengartner Award for Best Red Wings Rookie
Winner: Jakub Kindl (25 points)
The competition wasn't horribly fierce for this award, but Kindl didn't win it in a walk by simply failing to suck. Kindl showed that he is ready to take on a role on Detroit's blue line every night next season with his good offensive instincts, a nice outlet pass, and confident play in his own zone. We'd definitely like to see more production out of him next year, but he did a good job in his first full NHL campaign.
Runners-Up: Jan Mursak (11 points) Tomas Tatar (9 points)
The Steve Yzerman Award for Most Valuable Red Wings Player
Winner: Nicklas Lidstrom (21 points)
Saving the best for last, there's no telling what might have happened to Detroit without their captain on the ice this season. It's always a little tough to give a D-man the "most valuable" award vote as he's already got the best overall defenseman award going for him. Henrik Zetterberg was his closest challenger with a total of 17 points. Z finished top ten in the league for points with 80 and showed off his leadership by keeping up his point production when Datsyuk went down from injuries. He very well could have pulled this off if he hadn't been hurt near the end of the season. The voting was so tight here for a simple reason - to be a team as good as the Red Wings, you need several incredibly valuable players. We got to see how much hockey games could suck without Datsyuk in them and could only imagine the horrors that would happen without any of those three in the lineup.
Runners-Up: Henrik Zetterberg (17 points) Pavel Datsyuk (7 points)