The NHL Awards have largely been ignored by Sens fans for the past few years. However, time’s have changed and heading into the 2012 NHL Awards there was quite a bit of talk in the Nation’s capital. Three Senators were up for awards, Erik Karlsson for the Norris, Daniel Alfredsson for the Masterton and Paul MacLean for the Jack Adams. In the eyes of Sens fans Karlsson and MacLean had reasonable shots of bringing home the hardware.
The first award of interest for Sens fans would be the big one, the Norris. Would Karlsson’s season of offensive extravaganza (where he put up 25 more points that the next closest defenceman) be enough to challenge the more balanced games of Shea Weber and Zdeno Chara. Fresh off the new seven year contract, Sens fans were cheering hard for him to win, not having to worry about the Norris affecting contract talks. They would get their wish, with Karlsson just inching past Shea Weber in votes. The NHL uses a 10–7–5–3–1 points system, that is 10 points for a first place vote all the way to 1 point for a fifth place vote. Karlsson would finish with 1069 points, just enough to beat Weber’s total of 1057 (and Chara’s total of 950). Of note is that Karlsson also got 66 first place votes, compared to 49 for Weber and 32 for Chara. On stage, we got an unprepared speech by Karlsson:
“I don’t have a speech prepared. Uh I’d just like to thank uh everyone in the organization for making this happen. Uh I think uh uh ever since I got there they made me who I am today and uh um also to C And Weber uh terrific seasons uh my fiance Therese thank you and um I’m not a very good speaker. Thanks everybody.”
Next up would be the Jack Adams. MacLean’s competition included John Tortorella and Ken Hitchcock. Many thought that MacLean leading the Sens’ one year rebuild back into the playoffs would give him the edge. Unfortunately for him, Hitchcock also turned his team around. The Blues went from missing the playoffs last season to finishing 2nd in the West and putting up one of the all time great seasons of team defence. The voters decided this was most impressive and Hitchock would absolutely run away with the voting. He would receive 63 first place votes, compared to MacLean’s 4 (and Tortorella’s 5).
Lastly Alfredsson would be up for the Masterton. Realistically no Sens fan gave him a chance at winning this award against Joffrey Lupul and Max Pacioretty, both of which have gone through much more serious injuries than Alfredsson’s summer back surgery. In the end the voters decided the Pacioretty recovering from Chara’s cheap shot and having an excellent 2011-2012 season made him the most deserving. It looked like that was the end of the night for our captain. But low and behold, turns out he won the King Clancy Memorial Trophy for the player who best exemplifies leadership qualities on and off the ice and who has made a significant humanitarian contribution to his community. A well deserved award for Alfredsson, especially with his recent involvement in the “You Know Who I Am” mental health campaign.
In addition to two current Senators walking away with awards, two ex-Senators would as well. Brian Elliott after being chased out of town by fans and the media would end up having a career year leading the league in GAA and SV%. He would be rewarded along with Jaroslav Halak with the William M. Jennings trophy for the team with the fewest goals scored against it in the regular season. Mike Fisher would end up winning the NHL Foundation Player Award for the player who applies the core values of hockey, commitment, perseverance and teamwork to enrich the lives of people in his community. No surprise here as when he was with Ottawa Fisher was always a big part of charity events around the city.
Overall an extremely successful and rewarding night for Sens fans, especially with Karlsson walking away with the Norris. It appears that the voters have decided that a dominant offensive defenceman can win the Norris against more established veteran all around defencemen. Of course there was disagreement by a few media personnel on Twitter on Karlsson walking away with the award, especially since players like Mike Green or Lubomir Visnovsky haven’t been able to win. Nevertheless, Karlsson absolutely dominated every other defencemen offensively this season and it’s good to know that his efforts have been recognized outside of Ottawa.