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Vancouver Canucks' Daniel Sedin (TODD KOROL)
Vancouver Canucks' Daniel Sedin (TODD KOROL)

Eric Duhatschek

Handing out the NHL hardware Add to ...

In his years as editor and chief of the Hockey News, TSN executive Steve Dryden lobbied tirelessly on behalf of Lidstrom, as a candidate for the Byng, noting that the award rarely goes to a defenceman (Red Kelly won three of them on behalf of the Red Wings in the 1950s, and that's been pretty much it). The award doesn't specifically disqualify rearguards and more and more, in this age of puck-moving defencemen, it is appropriate that they get some consideration. Re-read the criteria for the award and explain how it doesn't fit the description of the way Lidstrom has played throughout his career. He should have won multiple Byng trophies by now; this may be the last chance for voters to right a long-standing wrong.

Jack Adams (coach of the year): Barry Trotz (Nashville Predators) Runners-up: Dan Bylsma (Pittsburgh Penguins), Alain Vigneault, (Vancouver Canucks)

You could also make convincing cases on behalf of Todd McLellan in San Jose, Dave Tippett in Phoenix, Bruce Boudreau in Washington, and even Jacques Lemaire in New Jersey, if there was such a thing as a half-season award. But Trotz has done a remarkable job again this year. There is a temptation to string all the Nashville success stories together, but when you consider that they lost Pekka Rinne for a handful of games in the opener, Matt Lombardi in the second game to what turned out to be a season-ending concussion and had such a revolving cast of centre-ice men that at one point, they had a player named Chris Mueller on an American Hockey League contract and had to sign him to an NHL deal because they'd run out of options down the middle, well, to get this overachieving group into the post-season again represents remarkable work by Trotz and his staff. The way Bylsma and Vigneault navigated their teams to success despite crippling injuries also merits strong consideration.

Vezina (top goalie): Pekka Rinne (Nashville Predators) Runners-up: Tim Thomas (Boston Bruins), Carey Price (Montreal Canadiens)

On a purely statistical basis Thomas has led the race from wire to wire, emerging from an off-season last year, in which he lost the starting job to Tuuka Rask, to a fabulous bounce-back season on behalf of the Bruins, Thomas has been exceptional again. Rinne's numbers are in the same ballpark, however, so ultimately, GMs will have to decide if Boston's superior roster will be a factor in their decision-making.

In a round-about way, the 2011 voting year reminds me a lot of 1997, a season when a fairly non-descript Buffalo Sabres' team dominated the proceedings. That year, the Sabres took home the Vezina (Dominik Hasek), the Selke (Mike Peca) and the Jack Adams (Ted Nolan) for greatly exceeding expectations (they won the Adams with 92 points, ahead of the Mario Lemieux-led Penguins, who had 84).

Rinne, Trotz and Weber should all be finalists in their respective categories for the little team that could. Whether they win or not, well, a side trip to Vegas in June is always a nice way to round out the season.

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