On the eve of the most important draft for the Canadiens in a few decades, let’s celebrate a great night for us Habs fans at the NHL Awards.
The big news, of course, was that Max Pacioretty nabbed the Bill Masterton Trophy, beating out Joffrey Lupul from the Maple Leafs and favourite Daniel Alfredsson from the Senators. The award is for the player who is the best example in the past season of perseverance and sportsmanship.
Patch told The Gazette’s Dave Stubbs that “It doesn’t sound real right now but this is definitely the best thing in the world.”
Indeed. I’ll just say that I was listening to sports radio Wednesday – it does happen sometimes when my radio dial veers off CBC Radio One by mistake – and I heard the “experts” – who will remain un-named to protect the guilty – saying there was simply no chance that Pacioretty would win the Masterton. The argument was that it’s voted on by the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association and that hockey scribes have radically divided views on the infamous Zdeno Chara hit on Pacioretty – when the Brunis D-man crushed Patch’s head into a stanchion at the Bell Centre in the spring 0f 2011, sending the Hab to the hospital in a stretcher with a fractured cervical vertebra.
So I take the win as something of a vindication for our take on this hit – that it was an ugly incident, that seasoned vet Chara knew exactly what he was doing when he rammed Pacioretty’s upper body into the stanchion. This is a story with a happy ending too – Patch bounced back from this potentially-career-threatening injury to play his best-ever season in the big leagues, notching 33 goals and 32 assists on the only happening line on a C-list team going nowhere fast (that would be our beloved Habs!).
But the NHL Awards story gets even better – cos Chara lost in the Norris trophy race to Senators defenceman Erik Karlsson. Poor old Zdeno – he has to watch Pacioretty win, he loses and he gets to sit there in the crowd thinking long and hard about how far the Bruins have fallen since their Cup victory the year before!
Last but not least, my main man Jaroslav Halak won the Jennings Trophy with fellow Blues netminder Brian Elliott for allowing the fewest goals during the regular season. Their numbers are just mind blowing – Elliott had a 1.56 goals-against-average and Halak had a 1.97 GAA.
So you know what? I like Carey ‘The Man in Black’ Price as much as the next Montrealer but let’s just admit that Jaro remains an effin amazing goalie!
And stay tuned. We’ll talk more about the 2012 NHL draft and the Habs third-overall pick shortly!