Daniel Alfredsson and Erik Karlsson have traded in their hockey pads for tuxedos, and Paul MacLean is getting his moustache ready for prime time as the cornerstones to the Senators organization prep themselves for the NHL Awards this evening from Las Vegas. While all three men are up against some tough competition there is a chance that the Senators could be celebrating three separate times this evening.
Paul MacLean is up for the Jack Adams as coach of the year, in just his first year as a head coach. MacLean lead the Sens to an 8th seed playoff berth a year after the organization decided to pack up and rebuild following a 13th place finish in the Eastern Conference. With heavy competition from his 1st round counterpart John Torterella of the New York Rangers and Ken Hitchcock of the St. Louis Blues, MacLean will be in a tight race for the honour but just being nominated in his first year shows just what kind of coach MacLean is poised to be.
Daniel Alfredsson has battled through so much in the last year to get the Senators back to respectability and himself back as the dominant leader that so many of us have enjoyed watching play his entire career. Up for the Bill Masterton Trophy which best represents perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey, Alfredsson has excelled in all of those categories this season. Battling to recover from back surgery in 2010/2011 season, Alfredsson shone bringing the Senators to the Stanley Cup Playoffs, oh and who could forget his milestone 400th goal! Up against Max Pacioretty of the Montreal Canadiens and Joffrey Lupul of the Toronto Maple Leafs, Alfredsson is in tough as well but has certainly shown throughout the year he has more than done enough to deserve this honour.
Finally the quarterback of the Senators offence Erik Karlsson is up for the James Norris Trophy as the leagues top defenceman. His startling breakout season led him to 19 goals and 59 assists for 78 points, tops among defenceman in all of those categories. Shea Weber of the Nashville Predators and former Senator Zdeno Chara of the Boston Bruins, pose as the tough competition for Karlsson. While the knock throughout Karlssons career has been the fact he is not as sound in his own end as he his offensively, those critics were somewhat silenced with Karlssons defensive play this year and his league leading 111 takeaways should show that. His offence was so dominant at his position however that it should overlap his play in his own end and guarantee that Karlsson grabs his first Norris Trophy to top off one of the best weeks of the young man’s life.