2020 NHL Awards – Vezina, Lady Byng and Masterton Finalists
Lady Byng and Masterton Trophy finalists are announced, Edmonton’s Rogers Place suffers some water damage, plus the latest on David Pastrnak, Vladimir Tarasenko, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
2020 NHL AWARDS UPDATE
NHL.COM: Colorado Avalanche center Nathan MacKinnon, Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews, and St. Louis Blues center Ryan O’Reilly are this year’s finalists for the Lady Byng Trophy, awarded annually to the player who bests combines sportsmanship, gentlemanly conduct, and ability.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: This award typically goes to the most notable superstar with the lowest penalty minutes. MacKinnon had 12 PIMs this season, O’Reilly 10 and Matthews eight. However, this year’s selections stirred up some controversy.
Matthews got himself into trouble last year when he and a group of friends were accused of harassing a female security guard in Arizona. Meanwhile, some pundits were puzzled why Carolina Hurricanes defenseman Jaccob Slavin (10 PIMs) was passed over as a finalist. It was also pointed out only three defensemen (Bill Quackenbush, Red Kelly, and Brian Campbell) have won the Lady Byng.
Dallas Stars defenseman Stephen Johns, Philadelphia Flyers winger Oskar Lindblom, and Ottawa Senators winger Bobby Ryan are this year’s finalists for the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy, awarded annually to the player who best exemplifies perseverance, sportsmanship, and dedication to hockey.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Johns returned to action after being sidelined nearly two years by post-traumatic headaches that at times left him confined to darkened rooms battling depression and suicidal thoughts.
Lindblom’s rookie season was derailed by Ewing’s sarcoma, a rare form of bone cancer. He recently completed cancer treatments, including chemotherapy.
Ryan took a leave of absence last November to receive treatment for alcohol abuse. He returned to action on Feb. 25 and scored a hat trick two days later.
LATEST RETURN-TO-PLAY NEWS
TSN: A storm in Edmonton caused some water damage to Rogers Place just two weeks before it becomes a host city for the Western Conference teams in the upcoming playoff tournament. Oilers Entertainment Group issued a statement expressing confidence the incident won’t hamper its hosting efforts. Most of the damage was reportedly limited to the Ford Hall terminus.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Time to break out the Shop-Vacs! Seriously, though, it doesn’t appear the arena, training facilities, or dressing rooms suffered any damage.
NBC SPORTS BOSTON: Bruins wingers David Pastrnak and Ondrej Kase were declared unfit to participate in practice yesterday. Both had emerged from travel quarantine earlier in the week.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Do they have COVID-19 symptoms? Did they suffer injuries preparing to return to play? No one knows because the league won’t allow teams to reveal a sidelined player’s status due to “medical privacy”.
CALGARY SUN: Flames general manager Brad Treliving shot down speculation suggesting winger Johnny Gaudreau’s skating with a smaller group of players was some sort of punishment over his conditioning. “Johnny Gaudreau has never looked better,” claimed Treliving. He added Gaudreau’s placement with the smaller group was due to circumstances arising from the need to be cautious as the players returned from a long layoff.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: That won’t prevent some folks from theorizing Gaudreau’s fallen out of favor with the coaching staff or stoking rumors about the winger’s future in Calgary.
THE SCORE: St. Louis Blues winger Vladimir Taransenko isn’t concerned about living in a quarantine bubble in Edmonton for the upcoming playoff tournament. “I don’t need much to live. I just need a bed and food,” he told The Athletic’s Jeremy Rutherford.
TWINCITIES.COM: Minnesota Wild captain Mikko Koivu is more concerned about his club’s opportunity to play for the Stanley Cup than his future. The 37-year-old center is an unrestricted free agent at season’s end and could be playing his final games with the Wild.
WINNIPEG FREE PRESS: Mike McIntyre examines the strict pandemic protocols the Winnipeg Jets are following during Phase 3 of the return-to-play plan. Defenseman Luca Sbisa explained the players aren’t really allowed to go anywhere but the rink and their homes, though they do partake in simple errands such as grocery shopping. The Jets have their own Phase 3 policies as well as those issued in a 19-page document by the league.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Phase 3 is the crucial period if the playoff tournament under Phase 4 is to take place starting in two weeks. The Jets, and the other clubs involved, are taking significant steps to ensure the health and safety of the players. Time will tell, however, if those measures prove successful.
IN OTHER NEWS…
TORONTO SUN: Long-time Leafs TV reporter Paul Hendricks is stepping down to spend more time with his wife, who’s battling cancer. Hendricks was part of Leafs TV from its infancy in the mid-1990s.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Best wishes to Hendricks and his wife during this difficult time.
CHICAGO SUN-TIMES: Rocky Thompson is stepping down as head coach of the AHL’s Chicago Wolves after three seasons behind their bench. He’s expected to coach the Vegas Golden Knights’ new AHL affiliate in Nevada next season.