Yes, yes, Scott Niedermayer retired and we'll get to that as soon as we can, but for now, let's run down the exhausting programme for the NHL Awards show tomorrow.
-Two rock bands that the majority Canadian audience are not familiar with, and two other musical acts that the majority Canadian audience are kind of familiar with highlight this year's 'famous for the NHL' glamourous Vegas chorus. The Goo Goo Dolls and Shinedown are your typical canned-rock bands that have had a number of hits on obscure charts (not unlike when Finger Eleven performed a couple years ago). The former are from Buffalo, and the latter are from Jacksonville, so at least there's sort of a hockey connection involved. Goo Goo Doll frontman John Rzeznik will likely wear a Sabres jersey, while Brent Smith of Shinedown will either wear a Predators jersey because he's from Tennessee, a Tampa Bay jersey because he's based in northern Florida, or no jersey at all because he's completely forgotten what he's performing for tomorrow night.
-The other two acts are Travis Barker and Snoop Dogg. Snoop is the NHL's most famous celebrity fan, who is often seen at Anaheim Duck games high on cocaine with his son:
As for Travis Barker, he was formerly the drummer for San Diego band Blink-182. If you know a teenage girl from the early 2000s, you probably saw one of their posters. I cannot imagine a worse fit for performing at a hockey show than a tattooed up drummer with no connection to any team or the game itself. Luckily, the man survived a plane crash so he's likely to survive this train wreck.
-Cirque du Soleil are also scheduled to perform, along with Mark Wahlberg and George Stromboulopoulus. It's rumoured that Cirque is performing in an attempt to recruit Maxim Lapierre, who looked like he belonged in that act throughout the playoffs.
Two surefire predictions
-Ron McLean will inevitably drop some awkward jokes about the Phoenix Coyotes situation. The camera will pan to Gary Bettman as he shifts uncomfortably in his seat and reluctantly grins.
-George Stromboulopoulus will piss me off.
Duncan Keith, Mike Green and Drew Doughty are up for this one. I can already say I disagree with the winner by the mere fact that Mike Green is a nominee. Conventional wisdom says Keith in this one, but Doughty is the sexy pick, which is typically how writers vote when they get their ballots in the mail and suddenly realize they have no idea what the hell the criteria for this award is.
Jack Adams Award:
Barry Trotz, Joe Sacco and Dave Tippett. You can pretty much guarantee that this will go to Tippett, since the award historically goes to the coach who brought his doomed team to the playoffs, without any thought on actual player development. You get a feeling that Barry Trotz will eventually win this due to the fact that he's stuck around in Nashville and put together good team after good team, but nobody seems to think that the Predators were ever screwed enough to merit giving it to him.
Ryan Miller, Ilya Bryzgalov and Martin Brodeur. As inconsistent of a year Brodeur had, he led the league in wins and shutouts and was third in goals against average, although those stats (as with all goalie stats) are so heavily biased towards the team playing in front of them that we really have no way of objectively analyzing these goalies to say who's the best. The GMs vote for this one, so they seldom get it wrong. If the writers were voting for it, Miller would win, based on his Olympic performance. Since that isn't the case, this one goes to Ilya Bryzgalov, although that probably isn't a good thing.
The last three goalies to win this trophy other than Brodeur are Jose Theodore, Mikka Kiprusoff and Tim Thomas, all three of whom could attest that their careers haven't necessarily improved, with the exception of the multi-million dollar contracts they all got as a result for getting hot for half a season.
This one always goes without fail to the rookie who scores the most points. I think that it was Matt Duchene this year, and he'll probably win, because he's going up against a defenseman and a goalie. The defenseman, Tyler Myers, is the sexy pick, while Jimmy Howard is the pity pick. This is a guy who got a starting job by being marginally better than Chris Osgood, after all.
Pavel Datsyuk, Ryan Kesler and Jordan Staal are up for this one. This pretty much comes down to a coin flip, since there's no objective way of determining the best defensive forward without watching all three nominees play at least half their schedule. Based on that alone, I'll give it to Ryan Kesler, who's shown more nationally in Canada than the other two, but you won't be penalized for taking Staal or Datsyuk either.
Actually, the more I dwell on it, this should go to Datsyuk just so we can watch him give another speech:
This is one of the most flawed awards in all of sports, only slightly less than the BCS National Championship Trophy. This is "awarded to the player judged to be the most valuable to his team."
Unfortunately, you can't really judge 'value to the team' when you don't take the playoffs into the equation (otherwise Jonathan Toews would run away with this thing). Since most teams will judge success based in the playoffs, it seems kind of dumb to completely eliminate that part of the season from voting. Otherwise you're just really voting for who the best player in the league is, which is totally fine, but then you'd have to factor in, say, the Olympics this year, because we are now voting for the best hockey player in the world today, who is Jonathan Toews.
'Value to the team' can't be judged when the Canucks, Capitals and Penguins all had the same type of season: they finished first in their respective divisions and had massive playoff failures. There's really no way of negotiating which team would be more S.O.L. without their MVP candidate in the lineup. The Capitals played nine games without Ovechkin and managed a 7-2 record. The Penguins lost in overtime in their only game without Sid, but that was against the eventual Cup champions. Henrik Sedin didn't miss a single game for the Canucks, and based on the sole criteria of 'value to the team' playing the most games probably means you have the most value to your team, amongst the other nominees.
So, without a set criteria, I may as well just say that Matt Cooke should go ahead and win this award, which is no more farfetched an idea than having Mike Green nominated for the Vezina, or admitting girls to the Hall of Fame.
Other big hockey news story. Angela James, Cammi Granato and Dino Ciccarelli were elected to the 2010 Hall of Fame class. I wonder if the extra wait time for Ciccarelli is worth the customary inductee orgy that takes place the night of the ceremony.
The Hockey Hall of Fame, probably the easiest to get into [see: Gillies, Clark], also snubbed Pat Burns from the builder category. Burns has three kinds of cancer, has given up the fight and doesn't have much longer to live, yet he still managed to be snubbed. The Pension Plan Puppets explain the situation far better than I ever could.
There are arguments to be made for and against Dave Andreychuk, Pavel Bure and Doug Gilmour (the most compelling 'for' argument being "but you let Rod Langway in!") but Pat Burns getting in as a builder should have been a sure thing. Even Facebook wanted it to happen. But a coach with three Jack Adams Awards (more than Scotty Bowman!!!) 500 wins (more than Toe Blake!!!) and a Stanley Cup (more than Roger Nielson!!!) who's probably going to get in anyway may as well get in at a time when he can savour the moment.
Or, screw it. The only fun thing about the Hall of Fame is the goalie game.
[Opening doors to Hall of shame - Bruce Arthur, National Post]