LAS VEGAS, USA – It’s clear that Montreal Canadiens goaltender Carey Price’s career can be neatly divided into two sections – pre-Sochi and post-Sochi. The man who backstopped Canada to Olympics gold a year and a half ago left Las Vegas tonight with four of the NHL’s top honours – the coveted Hart Trophy and Ted Lindsay Award, the Vezina Trophy, and a share of the William Jennings Trophy.
Price becomes the first goaltender to win the Hart since Jose Theodore in 2002. He is only the sixth goalie to win the award since it was introduced in 1924.
The Ted Lindsay Award (formerly the Lester Pearson Award) is voted on by the players themselves and in many ways is the most important individual honour. Price becomes only third goalie to win after Mike Liut and Dominik Hasek since it was introduced in 1971.
And, if that wasn’t enough, Price took home the cherished Vezina Trophy to the best goalie in the league, and shared the Jennings with Corey Crawford of Chicago. This marked the seventh time in the last nine years the Jennings has been shared by two goalies but the first time ever that the two have played on different teams. The honours go to the goalies who have played at least 25 games for their team and to the team that allowed the fewest goals during the regular season. Montreal and Chicago were lowest in that department, each allowing only 189 goals in 82 games. Neither team’s backups played 25 games.
Sweden’s Erik Karlsson of the Ottawa Senators won his second Norris Trophy as the NHL’s best defenceman. He also won in 2012 and is the only Swede other than Nicklas Lidstrom to have won the prestigious award.
The Calder Trophy was won by Florida defenceman Aaron Ekblad. The first overall draft choice last year, Ekblad is only 19 but has the size, skill, and competitive spirit of a veteran. Not only did he have a sensational rookie season in the NHL, he was a key member of Canada’s defensive unit in Prague last month as the team went undefeated and claimed gold.
Washington Capitals forward Alexander Ovechkin won the Rocket Richard Trophy for the third year in a row and the fifth time during his amazing career. His 53 goals were not only tops in the NHL for 2014/15, but he was the only player to reach the 50-goal mark. Steven Stamkos was second with 43 goals. Ovechkin now has 475 career goals in the regular season and is sure to pass the magical 500 mark some time next season.
Dallas forward Jamie Benn won his first Art Ross Trophy with 87 points, the lowest total to lead the league in nearly half a century. Stan Mikita also led the league with 87 points in 1967/68. Benn earned the trophy in dramatic fashion, recording four points on the final day of the regular season to pass John Tavares (86) and Sidney Crosby (84). Benn is the first player in Minnesota/Dallas history to lead the league in scoring.
The Calgary Flames had two winners on the night. Jiri Hudler won the Lady Byng Trophy for his gentlemanly play. The 31-year-old Czech most recently played in the 2013 and 2014 World Championships.
As well, coach Bob Hartley completed his amazing return to the NHL by winning the Jack Adams Award as best coach. Hartley had been an NHL coach for a decade until 2008 when he was fired by the Atlanta Thrashers. He went into broadcasting but was lured out of retirement by the ZSC Lions Zurich in 2011, and he led the team to a Swiss championship in his first and only season. He returned to the NHL in 2012, with the Flames, and in this his third year he took the team to its first playoff series victory in 12 years.
Patrice Bergeron of Boston won the Selke Trophy as the best defensive forward. Internationally, he is perhaps best remembered for winning World Junior gold before winning World Championship gold. He is the 25th member of the Triple Gold Club. The 29-year-old has been with the Bruins 11 years.
Devan Dubnyk, who started 38 straight games for the Minnesota Wild during the last half of the season, getting the team into the playoffs, won the Bill Masterton trophy for perseverance.
Rounding out the honours, Detroit’s Henrik Zetterberg won the King Clancy Trophy.
But the night belonged to Price. His mother, Lynda, is a former chief of the Ulkatcho First Nation, and in one speech tonight Price encouraged children of First Nations to aspire to be the best and to persevere. He is a shining example of these attributes, and in the eyes of many in the hockey world he is the best player in the NHL right now. News & Notes:
- The NHL All-Star Team includes: Carey Price; Erik Karlsson, P.K. Subban; John Tavares, Jakub Voracek, Alexander Ovechkin
- For the upcoming season the overtime procedure was changed to have a 3-on-3 (previously 4-on-4) overtime period of not more than five minutes. Power plays during overtime will be played 4-on-3 or 5-on-3 respectively. If the game remains tied the teams continue with a three-round shootout.
- The NHL Board of Governors launched a possible expansion process by authorizing a formal process to evaluate all expressions of team interest. NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman confirmed at a press conference interest from Seattle, Las Vegas and Quebec City. Applications can be filed until 10th August.
- The NHL and the NHLPA announced an increased salary cap of $71.4 million and a salary floor of $52.8 million per team.