Every year, just before the NHL playoffs, people spend time getting all riled up about the NHL awards. Who should win the Norris? Who is the best defensive forward? Who should win the Hart (that all of you get wrong anyway because no one pays attention to the phrase “most valuable to their team”).
While we wait for the regular season to end, I’m here to let you know who is the opposite to these awards. Who was the worst coach of the regular season? Which GM bungled things up the worst? Which player is the LEAST valuable to their team?
Don’t worry hockey fans, I am here to tell you who these people are.
Just so you can get a head start on fan mail, my e-mail is firstname.lastname@example.org.
The NHL/Bates Motel Road Performer Award
Actual Award: NHl/Sheraton Road Performer Award
The Sheraton Hotels Road Performer Award was given out once to the player who best performed on the road. I took this dead award and gave it my own twist.
Ryan O’Rielly made a fresh start in St. Louis this season, but he wins this award for his biggest turn around and keeping his truck on the road and not in a Tim Hortons this past off-season.
Pierre McGuire Award
Actual award: E.J. McGuire Award of Excellence
The E.J. McGuire award goes to the top prospects coming into the NHL draft this year, and I felt the opposite award would be named after our favourite high school hockey team name dropper.
This one is another tie for every prospect from the London Knights.
Worst General Manager of the Year
Actual award: General Manager of the year
Sure, this sounds like an easy choice - picking on Peter Chiarelli is like fishing with dynamite, and he was fired after all - but...no it was super easy.
The trades Peter accomplished before he was fired can be found here. I’m not sure which ones won him the award; maybe was Ryan Strome for Ryan Spooner, then flipping Spooner to the Canucks for Sam Gagner months later.
Or perhaps it was trading Drake Caggiula and Jason Garrison for two guys who very quickly were not even Oilers. Brandon Manning lasted twelve games before being demoted to the AHL, and Robin Norell left North America this season to go back to Sweden.
Congratulations Peter, I hope you find your next job in Buffalo.
Mark Messier Award for being the worst leader like Mark Messier in Vancouver as chosen by me not Mark Messier
Actual award: Mark Messier Leadership Award
One of the dumber awards is the LEADERSHIP award. It’s just some random dude that Mark Messier wants to take a selfie with. This year the opposite of that award goes to Jack Eichel, the player the Buffalo Sabres were disappointed to draft, the leader who couldn’t even take a ten game winning streak team to the playoffs. They had a 2-11-1-1 record in March that included three straight shutout losses and then being shutout again by the OTTAWA SENATORS.
I’m sorry Jack, but that was some terrible leadership.
Vesa Toskala Lack of Saving Grace Award
Actual award: Roger Crozier Saving Grace Award
The Roger Crozier Award is for the goalie who plays a minimum 25 games and has the best save percentage. My version is easy. Find the goalie who played 25 games and has the worst save percentage.
Jonathan Quick, who has a $5.8 million cap hit until 2023, had a .887sv% in 45 games this year.
Good luck Kings!
To clarify, that's 10 years after next year -- so 11 years in total of our goaltender being better than yours.— LA Kings (@LAKings) June 28, 2012
The Tie “I’m a goal scorer now” Domi award
The award name is a reference to an old Quiznos commercial I can’t find on YouTube
The Rocket Richard trophy goes to the top goal scorer in the NHL, and this year it’s going to Alex Ovechkin who scored 51 goals in 80 games.
What is the opposite of this? Well, I searched players who played 80 games and scored the fewest goals and got our result. Nick Hjalmarsson of the Arizona Coyotes scored no goals in 80 games this season. The lowest scoring forward in 80 or more games? Leo Komarov of the New York Islanders with six.
The Sean Avery’s Career Memorial Trophy
Actual award: King Clancy Memorial Trophy
The King Clancy Award is “Awarded to the player who best exemplifies leadership qualities on and off the ice and has made a noteworthy humanitarian contribution in his community.”
Well, the best I can figure the opposite of this to be is someone who makes a noteworthy contribution, but only because he was forced to.
So, I give the Sean Avery Trophy to Tom Wilson, for his $882,113.71 contribution to the Players’ Emergency Assistance Fund after he was suspended 14 games for checking Oskar Sundqvist in the head.
We would like to thank Tom for his contributions to the fund that will help the victims of his hits after their careers are over.
The Bud Light NHL Plus Minus Award
I don’t have a name better/worse than the real one
Up until 2008 the NHL gave out an award for the most arbitrary of stats, +/-. They don’t any more, but if they did, the winner would be Mark Giordano of the Calgary Flames, who ended the season a +39.
Who is our winner of the worst +/-?
Rasmus Ristolainen of the Buffalo Sabres with his -43. Congratulations Buffalo! Enjoy him until 2022.
The André ‘Red Light’ Racicot Trophy
Actual award: William M. Jennings Trophy
The Jennings Trophy goes to the goalies who played for the team that had the fewest goals score against it in the regular season. This years winners are Robin Lehner and Thomas Greiss of the New York Islanders for only allowing 196 goals.
That....doesn’t seem right, but ok.
The winner of the Red Light Racicot Trophy in 2019? It seems cruel, but it goes to the tandem on Craig Andersen and Anders Nilsson for the Ottawa Senators, having let in 306 goals of the season.
I don’t feel nice about this one.
A better laugh would have been the second place team winning - the Chicago Blackhawks pair of Corey Crawford and Cam Ward for letting in 291 goals. A bad year for the NHL’s favourite team, and their $9,000,000 spent on goalies.
The Phil Kessel Award
Actual award: Frank J. Selke Trophy
The Selke Trophy is the award for the best defensive forward, and to win an award they have to be a pretty well known name. We’ll usually see the same names each year; Patrice Bergeron, Anze Kopitar....well those are the winners of the past five Selke trophies.
I’ve named the anti-Selke as the Phil Kessel Award as he is constantly used as an example of the forward who doesn’t play defense.
So we’re looking for some bigger name players, who are great at offense, but are lacking in the defensive games. The three nominees I have for you are: Phil Kessel, Patrik Laine, and Evgeny Kuznetsov.
It’s my with my glee apologies to Winnipeg Jets* fans that the winner of the Phil Kessel award is Patrik Laine. A hotshot forward with seasons of 64, 70, and 50 points but no back check in his game.
The Randy Carlyle Trophy
Actual award: Jack Adams Trophy
Who was this years worst coach? When voting for the Jack Adams, most voters look at a coach of a team who had little to no expectations for this season - Gerard Gallant from last season for example - and for the worst coach, we have to take pre-season expectations into account while also looking at regular season performance.
Some Leafs fans will want to see Mike Babcock on this list, but he doesn’t compare to John Tortorella who had great players to start this season, great ones added, and the Blue Jackets still limped into the playoffs. Randy Carlyle coached the Ducks to a 12 game losing streak. Ken Hitchcock flailed around in Edmonton and cost Connor McDavid his second chance at the NHL playoffs. Willie Desjardins took a prize free agent signing and stuck him on the fourth line.
To me, this award is all John Tortorella’s. It takes a lot to beat out coaches who were fired - including the namesake - but he had everything in Columbus to succeed and win a weak Metro division at the start of the season, but squandered it and now faces the Tampa Bay Lightning in the first round of the playoffs.
The Brett Lebda Trophy
Actual award: James Norris Trophy
The Norris Trophy is for the best defender, but has lately been given to the best defender who scores a lot of points. So, when looking for the worst defender we need to see who’s bad defensively while also not contributing much to the teams box score.
The trophy is named after former Leafs defender Brett Lebda who was once a -3 in a 9-3 win.
I did a very scientific search (looked at NHL.com) and have declared that former Toronto Maple Leafs captain Dion Phaneuf to be the Brett Lebda Trophy winner for 2019. Congratulations Dion, your one goal and five assists in 67 games sealed the deal.
The Jeff Finger Trophy
Actual award: Hart Trophy
The Hart Trophy is the most mis-awarded trophy in the NHL. It’s not for the league MVP. It’s not for the best player in the league. It’s for the “player judged most valuable to his team”. Now, this could be the best player in the league each year, but I think a players impact on their team should be taken into account, otherwise just give this to Connor McDavid every year.
That’s the criteria I looked at when trying to find the player holding their team back the most. There were so many players to choose from. Milan Lucic was the first player that came to my mind; he scored 20 points in 79 games, while using up 7.5% of the teams cap space.
Ilya Kovalchuk has had 34 points in 64 games for the Kings, and costing the Kings 7.9% of their cap.
Our winner though, is Ryan Kesler on the Anaheim Ducks. He had just eight points in 60 games while taking up 8% of his team’s cap space.
Do you have a better pick for any of these awards? Feel free to share them in the comments.
Are you very angry I picked on your team?