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NHL begins handing out individual awards

With the 2019/20 NHL season being paused back in March due to Covid-19, the league’s annual awards show on the Las Vegas strip didn’t take place in June as it usually does. However, the top players haven’t been forgotten as the league began handing out its famous pieces of silverware in September.

Several winners were already known as soon as the league officially halted the campaign. The Maurice ‘Rocket’ Richard Trophy for leading the league in goals during the regular season was shared by Alexander Ovechkin of the Washington Capitals and David Pastrnak of the Boston Bruins as they scored 48 times apiece.

Forward Leon Draisaitl of the Edmonton Oilers took home the Art Ross Trophy for leading the league in scoring with 110 points while Tuukka Rask and Jaroslav Halak of the Boston Bruins won the William M. Jennings Trophy for allowing the fewest goals against during the regular season.

The King Clancy Memorial Trophy is given to the player who exemplifies leadership on and off the ice as well as making a humanitarian contribution to the community. This award is decided on by a committee of senior league executives including deputy commissioner Bill Daly and commissioner Gary Bettman. Matt Dumba of the Minnesota Wild was this season’s winner with the other finalists being Henrik Lundqvist of the New York Rangers and P.K. Subban of the New Jersey Devils.

The finalists for the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy were Stephen Johns of the Dallas Stars, Oskar Lindblom of the Philadelphia Flyers and Bobby Ryan of the Ottawa Senators with Ryan getting the nod. The trophy goes to the player who exemplifies sportsmanship, perseverance and dedication to the sport of hockey and is voted on by the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association. Ryan left his team in November of 2019 to enter the league’s player assistance program help battle alcohol abuse and returned to the Senators in late February.

The Jack Adams Award for the best coach during the regular season is voted on by the NHL’s Broadcasters’ Association with this year’s finalists being Bruce Cassidy of the Boston Bruins, John Tortorella of the Columbus Blue Jackets and Alain Vigneault of the Philadelphia Flyers. Cassidy was named the winner with 37 first-place votes and being named on 82 of the 132 ballots. He helped the team win the Presidents’ Trophy this season as the top team during the regular season with 100 points from a record of 44-14-12 and a .714 points percentage.

The Bruins had a goal differential of 53, were ranked second on the power play at 25.2 percent and third in penalty-killing at 84.3 per cent. The team also allowed the fewest goals against at 174 in 70 games. Cassidy becomes the fourth Bruins’ coach to win the award after being named a finalist two times in the past three seasons. Other Boston coaches to take home the trophy have been Pat Burns, Claude Julien and Don Cherry. Vigneault raked in 32 first-place votes in the balloting this year while Tortorella received 28.

Sean Couturier of the Philadelphia Flyers won the Frank J. Selke Trophy as the best defensive forward in the league with the other finalists being Patrice Bergeron of the Boston Bruins and Ryan O’Reilly of the St. Louis Blues. The centre posted 22 goals and 37 assists for 59 points in 69 contests and won a league-high 59.6 per cent of his faceoffs. He was also the only player to win at least 58 per cent of his draws in each of the offensive, defensive and neutral zones. The voting was done by the Professional Hockey Writer’s Association with Couturier being named on 163 of the 170 voting slips with 117 of them being first-place ballots.

The Lady Byng Memorial Trophy for combining gentlemanly conduct, a high level of play and sportsmanship was also voted on by the Writers’ Association and was contested by Nathan MacKinnon of the Colorado Avalanche, Ryan O’Reilly of the St. Louis Blues and Auston Matthews of the Toronto Maple Leafs. The award went to MacKinnon, who led Colorado in scoring with 35 goals and 58 assists for 93 points in 69 games while receiving just 12 minutes in penalties.

Meanwhile, the Jim Gregory General Manager of the Year Award is voted on  by a panel of media members, general managers and NHL executives. This year’s finalists were Jim Nill of the Dallas Stars, Julien BriseBois of the Tampa Bay Lightning and Lou Lamoriello of the New York Islanders with Lamoriello being named the winner. In addition, Calgary Flames’ defenceman and team captain Mark Giordano was named the winner of the Mark Messier NHL Leadership Award for exemplifying excellent leadership qualities on and off the ice.

The NHL also announced that the winners of the Calder Memorial Trophy, Hart Memorial Trophy,
James Norris Memorial Trophy, the Ted Lindsay Award, and the Vezina Trophy will all be revealed during the Stanley Cup Final series.

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