A week or so after the Stanley Cup was hoisted in Las Vegas (although it was the visitors doing the lifting), the boys are back in town. The NHL Awards are Wednesday night with the show airing at 8 p.m., ET on NHL Network.
New Jersey will be represented as the Devils have two players up for three prestigious awards and the league is bringing together some people who could use some goodwill and good times in Vegas. The awards are also a precursor to the NHL Draft, which is set to begin just two days later in Dallas, at American Airlines Center. Trade talks and actual trades are already happening in the league and when you get front office types and agents together in one place, you can be sure deals are at least being discussed.
Here are three things to watch for at the NHL Awards.
Hall is up for the two most prestigious awards, the Ted Lindsay Award and the Hart Memorial Trophy. Both awards recognize the league’s best player of the past season, with the Ted Lindsay Award recognizing the most outstanding player in the eyes’ of other players and the Hart Trophy honoring the media’s most valuable player.
The Professional Hockey Writers Association votes on the Hart Trophy while the NHL Players Association votes on the Ted Lindsay Award. Hall would be the first player from the Devils to win either award.
Hall wasn’t the league’s highest scorer but the fact that he was named a starter for both awards shows that his peers and the media recognize just how valuable he was to the Devils last season. They reached the playoffs for the first time in five years and without Hall, they wouldn’t have done so. He was the difference-maker on a team who showed the early returns on a rebuild.
He’s up against Colorado’s Nathan MacKinnon in both categories, as well as Connor McDavid in the Ted Lindsay contest. Also in the running for the Hart Trophy is Los Angeles’ Anze Kopitar.
The Devils’ veteran center is considered a favorite for the Masterton Trophy, voted on by the PHWA and awarded to the player who has shown perseverance through a trying season.
By now, you probably all know Boyle’s story: He was diagnosed with chronic myelogenous leukemia during training camp and he and his wife, Lauren Bedford, were told just days later their son Declan, then just two (now three), probably had cancer. In the end, it turns out that Declan also has a treatable illness, not of the cancerous type.
Boyle started medication to control the treatable form of bone marrow cancer and waited for the swelling in his spleen to subside before returning to the ice again, but even once he was back he was still splitting time between New Jersey and Boston, where Declan was being treated.
He performed an incredible balancing act, contributing on the ice and at home. He replaced Taylor Hall at the All-Star game in Tampa Bay, becoming an All-Star for the first time in his career, and he also became an inspiration to his teammates in Newark.
Also up for the Masterton is Carolina’s Eric Staal, whose daughter was stillborn, and Florida’s Roberto Luongo, the 39-year-old goalie who battled hand and groin injuries to lead the Panthers to a late playoff push. Ultimately, their bid was unsuccessful but Luongo’s season was anything but.
NHL honors victims
Before the Vegas Golden Knights ever had a chance to take the ice for the first time their town was rocked. The team did what they could to properly honor the victims of the shooting on Oct. 1 and the NHL will join in those efforts by bringing together survivors and first responders who were on the scene of the country music festival where 59 died and 851 were injured.
Victims from another tragic shooting will also be on hand. The hockey team of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School will in attendance, as will the members of the Humboldt Broncos. The survivors of the bus crash reunited for the first time Tuesday night. Broncos’ head coach Darcy Haugan, who died in the accident, is nominated for the inaugural Willie O’Ree Community Hero Award.
The NHL also announced they would be sending players to Humboldt, Saskatchewan, for a skills event on Aug. 24, which coincides with the day Washington’s Chandler Stephenson plans to bring the Stanley Cup to town. The Saskatoon native decided to spend his day with the Cup in small town that was devastated by the tragic April bus crash.