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The 2012 NHL Awards

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The NHL playoffs are an exciting time of year for all hockey fans. It’s a time when fans get to see their favorite teams battle for the Stanley Cup, and also which players take home some of the most coveted awards in professional sports. Hockey fans and players are eager to find out which players will take home these top honors. Different groups within hockey determine the nominees and winners of the Jack Adams Award, the Calder Memorial Trophy, the James Norris Memorial Trophy, the Vezina Trophy, and the Hart Memorial Trophy.
The Jack Adams Award is given to the head coach who contributed to his team’s success the most as judged by the National Hockey League Broadcasters' Association. This award was established in 1974 to commemorate the late Jack Adams, former coach of the Detroit Red Wings. Over the years, it has been presented to a total of 31 different coaches, with only five coaches winning more than once. This year, St. Louis Blues’ coach Ken Hitchcock is the frontrunner. He took over 13 games into the season, and under his direction, the Blues improved from a 6-7-0 start to a current record of 37-17-7. The Blues have gained a total of 31 wins under Hitchcock, while only suffering 10 losses. Hitchcock provided his team with a much needed confidence boost.
The Calder Memorial Trophy is awarded to the rookie who was most proficient in his first NHL season as judged by the Professional Hockey Writers' Association. The Calder was presented to the NHL in 1943 in honor of the late Frank Calder, who had been the President of the NHL. It has been won by the likes of Bobby Orr, Mario Lemieux, Dale Hawerchuk, and most recently, Jeff Skinner of the Carolina Hurricanes. This year’s finalists come from three different walks of the NHL. Our first finalist is Ryan Nugent-Hopkins of the Edmonton Oilers. Hopkins was the first overall draft pick in the 2011 draft. Hopkins has the highest average points per game at .88 per game. At only 18 years old, Hopkins is 5th in points on the Oilers with 36. Next, we have Matt Read of the Philadelphia Flyers. Read was never drafted and made the Flyers through training camp as a walk on. Read has 16 goals, and is two goals behind leading rookie scorer Gabriel Landeskog. Finally, we have Adam Henrique of the New Jersey Devils. Henrique was a late 3rd round draft pick back in 2008. Henrique currently leads all rookies in points and assists with 41 and 26 respectively. Though he’s only 22 years old, Henrique is 4th in points on the Devils with 41. It seems that the winner of the Calder will be Adam Henrique. He has been a major help for the Devils climbing back into the playoffs.
The James Norris Memorial Trophy is awarded to the defenseman who has the most all-around ability at the position as judged by the Professional Hockey Writers' Association. The trophy was presented to the NHL back in 1953 by the four children of the late James Norris, who had been the Owner and President of the Detroit Red Wings. It has been won by the likes of Bobby Orr, Doug Harvey, Ray Borque, and most recently, Nicklas Lidstrom of the Detroit Red Wings, who won his 7th Norris this past year. This year’s finalists consist of youth, veterans, and in between. The first finalist is Shea Weber of the Nashville Predators. Weber has been one of the two main forces in Nashville’s successful season, and has the second highest amount of points on the team at 40 to prove it. He was a finalist in the Norris for the past four years, but has never won the convened award. Next is Erik Karlsson of the Ottawa Senators. Karlsson is such a young defenseman, yet has already made a mark in Ottawa history by passing the record for most points in a season by a defenseman. Finally, we have Nicklas Lidstrom of the Detroit Red Wings. If Lidstrom were to win the Norris, he would tie the record of most Norris trophies won by one player, originally set by Bobby Orr back in 1975, when he won his 8th Norris. Lidstrom has been one of the main driving forces in all of Detroit history. Lidstrom is the 2nd oldest player in the NHL at age 41, second only to Dwayne Roloson, who is the 42 year old goalie of the Tampa Bay Lightning. Lidstrom has been one of the reasons Detroit has done so well, and was one of the main reasons Detroit set the record for longest home win streak. Many predict that the winner of the Norris will be Erik Karlsson, who leads all defensemen in points, and is helping Ottawa recover from a terrible season.
The Vezina Trophy is given to the best goaltender as voted on by the GM’s of all 30 hockey clubs. The Vezina was presented to the NHL in 1927 by Leo Dandurand, Louis Letourneau, and Joe Cattarinich in order to commemorate the late Georges Vezina. Vezina was the starting goalie for the Montreal Canadians when he passed away from tuberculosis a few months after collapsing on the ice. It has been won by the likes of Bernie Parent, Ron Hextall, Martin Brodeur, Patrick Roy, and most recently, Tim Thomas of the Boston Bruins. The three top contenders currently are leading three different categories. The first contender is Pekka Rinne of the Nashville Predators, the leading goaltender in wins, with 34. Next is Brian Elliot of the St. Louis Blues, the goaltender with the lowest Goals against Average with 1.65 per game. Finally, there is Henrik Lundqvist of the New York Rangers, the goalie with the highest save percentage at 94%, along with being tied for the most shutouts at seven. It appears that the winner of the Vezina will be Henrik Lundqvist, or King Henrik as he is affectionately known by his fans. With his massive numbers, he has been the backstop of the New York Rangers all-star season.
Finally, the Hart Memorial Trophy is given to the player who has been judged as the Most Valuable Player for his team. The Hart was presented to the NHL in 1923 by Dr. David Hart, the father of Cecil Hart, who was the GM of the Montreal Canadians at the time. It has been held by the likes of Wayne Gretsky, who won the trophy an astounding nine times, Bobby Orr, Bobby Clarke, Eric Lindros, Peter Forsberg, and most recently, Corry Perry. This years top finalists are all forwards that lead their team in points. First off is Jason Spezza of the Ottawa Senators. Spezza has been an assistant captain on the team for three years now, and recorded team high points while being chased by team captain Daniel Alferdson. Next up is Evgeni Malkin of the Pittsburgh Penguins. Malkin has been an assistant captain on the team for four years and has taken a major leadership position since team captain Sidney Crosby went out with a concussion nearly a year ago. Malkin overwhelmingly leads his team in points. Finally, there is Claude Giroux of the Philadelphia Flyers. Giroux has been serving as an assistant captain since team captain Chris Pronger went down with a concussion and was announced to be out for the rest of the season. Giroux also leads the Flyers in points and is respected throughout the league. In the end, the leadership that Malkin has shown as well as his outstanding play on the ice should net him the Hart.
The next few weeks will help determine which players take home these coveted awards. As teams battle for a spot in the playoffs, all players will have to bring their A game. Hockey fans are in for a fantastic show.





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