Let's be honest. The NHL awards are boring, and there isn't typically a lot of controversy or interest going into them. Besides, everyone votes on the same awards over and over again. Blah, blah, Crosby v. Ovechkin v. Bryzgalov, etc. etc. etc. Yawn.
At Hockey Wilderness, we look at things from a different perspective and try to think outside the box. In that vein, here are the 2010 Hockey Wilderness Awards:
The Boy Named Sue award (Best season by a player with a girl's name)
Nathan: Marian Gaborik. While Marian Hossa may have gotten further in the playoffs and Sidney Crosby may have had a better season in terms of points, Gaby (who has both a female first name and a female nickname) had a monster year in his first at Madison Square Garden, with 42-44-86 and +15 in 76 games. As went Gaborik, so went the Rangers. Ahh Gaby, I wish I knew how to quit you.
Buddha: Marian Gaborik - It is tough to pass on Sidney Crosby here, but Sid the Kid did exactly what everyone expected him to do. Marian played an almost full season and led her, ahem, his team in scoring. That is worth of an award, and this fits perfectly.
JS: Marian Gaborik, He's had a great year and it could've been even better if he actually had a decent supporting cast (How often has he heard THAT in his life?)
The Stan Neckar award (Most unpronounceable name)
Nathan: Jonathan Toews. The Chicago captain, Team Canada superstar and North Dakota Fighting Sioux alum not only had a fantastic season, a gold medal and is prime to lift Lord Stanley's Cup, but over half of the people who see his name pronounce it incorrectly and the rest who hear his name can't spell it. He's the Brett Favre of hockey.
Buddha: Guillaume Latendresse - While it doesn't strike most people as altogether too difficult, the broadcast team does not seem to be capable of doing it.
They play hockey where? (Best season by a player from a non-traditional market)
Nathan: There's no doubt here. It's Steven Stamkos. Talk about letting a kid do what comes naturally. Stamkos came into last season with huge expectations, no supporting cast, a messed up GM/ownership situation and Barry freaking Melrose as his coach. Remove some of those problems and look what happens. It's hard to think of a #1 overall pick as underrated, but holy crap, put him anywhere else, and he's the story of the year.
Buddha: Steven Stamkos - If a second year player scoring 50 goals doesn't put butts in the seats, nothing will. I don't care if the Bolts lost every single game they ever played. I would pay $30 a game just to watch this kid play.
JS: I actually thought this meant a non-traditional country, in which case I would've gone with Slovenia's Anze Kopitar, but non traditional market, I'm going to have to say Stamkos as well, he's the third youngest player to crack 50 goals, and he could've had more had he not led the league in posts hit!
The Todd Fedoruk's original cheekbone memorial award (Guy who took the biggest ass-whooping of the year)
So, yeah. It's Matt Cooke.
Buddha: Matt Cooke - While there were bigger bouts, and bloodier bouts, the Evander Kane KO of Matt Cooke was collectively the best feeling an NHL fan could ever have. Short of punching him themselves, anyway.
JS: Alexandre Bolduc, he got absolutely MURDERED! Cooke is a close second, but it was way too short! He should've been pummeled for about 3 minutes non-stop...
The Tore Vikingstad award (Name which most strikes fear into the hearts of men)
Nathan: Alexander Semin. Who wants to see Semin streaking down the ice? Semin cutting across the slot? Semin in your face? Ok. I'll stop now. /12 year old humor.
Buddha: Dany Heatley. (Too easy?) No, no... Derek Boogaard. As much as his role has diminished, the reason it has done so is because he is so damn scary. No one wants to fight the guy because he will kill you. Also, while we in Minnesota take it for granted, Boogeyman is a pretty sweet nickname. I am certainly open to changing my vote on this.
JS: He who shall remain nameless!... Nah, The boogeyman also gets my vote for this, who wouldn't pee themselves when that beast even looks at them with an angry look on his face?
The Dikembe Mutumbo Mpolondo Mukamba Jean-Jacques Wamutombo award (Best shot-blocker)
Nathan: It's Greg Zanon. He just needs to start wagging the finger. I'd pay for that.
Buddha: Dear Lord. This isn't even a question, is it? Greg Zanon takes this hands down. While Andy Sutton, Dennis Wideman, and Kieth Ballard all finished with more official shots blocked, none of them has a sweet beard like Zuperman, and not one of them played the last month of the season with a broken ankle.
JS: ZUPERMAAAAAN! While the acquisition of BTE was a Godsend, I believe our best acquisition this year was Greg Zanon. His durability makes him even more valuable considering what he goes through every night.
The Summer's Eve award (Biggest douche-bag in the NHL)
Nathan: Matt Cooke. No second choice, no questions asked. Dick.
Buddha: Matt Cooke - He takes home yet another award. The guy is just wrong. As my post about him should make clear, he does not belong in the NHL. He represents everything that is wrong with the league, and yet for some reason, teams continue to sign the idiot.
JS: Hmm.... I can't decide between Cindy Crybaby or Matt Cooke... I'm gonna go with Cooke because at least Crosby doesn't pride himself in hurting others...
The Donatello, Michelangelo, Leonardo and Raphael award (Biggest turtle)
Nathan: I didn't see enough of Brad May this year, and Cooke actually didn't turtle as frequently as normal, so it goes to the Canucks puke du jour, Darcy Hordichuk. He ruins a great name by being an absolute turtling shit on the ice.
Buddha: Darcy Hordichuk - He wins this because of one "play." The attempted horse collar tackle of Boogaard and then running to the linesman to protect him.
JS: Hordichuk was really bad, but my vote goes to Steve Ott, who really strikes me as the kind of guy who would pull pranks on people at school and than cry and say sorry when the teacher (or a bigger bully) caught him in the act... I haven't really seen much of him this year though, but he's the guy I would've voted for last year and the year before that and so on and so forth
The Better Luck Next Time award (the player with the worst season of the year)
Nathan: Fuck James Sheppard.
Buddha: Hmmm... worst player of the year. For the entire league, the worst player. Do you go with a guy who wasn't expected to do anything, or do you go with the biggest disappointment? If it is the biggest disappointment, it has to be Tomas Vanek in Buffalo. 53 points for a cap hit of $7.1 million? That is inexcusably bad. It is hard to say anyone in the league had a worse season than Vanek did, unless of course you are talking about the Oilers as a whole.
Patrick O'Sullivan: A -35 rating, dead last in the NHL.
Rod Brind'Amour: 19 points, assistant captain, horrible year for the team, all for $3.6 million.
JS: It's so tempting to go with Shep here.... SO I WILL! :D Shep had a dismal 6 points with a -14... I actually tried to find worse stats... and I just couldn't, players who could've qualified either played less games or wasn't supposed to produce the way Shep was... he might actually be the true worst player this year.. isn't that sad? I actually tried to be neutral and he still got my vote...
The Martin Skoula award (Biggest mistake by a team or player)
Nathan: Dan Boyle. This was up for debate until a clear winner emerged.
Dude, this was the freaking playoffs. What the hell were you thinking?
Buddha: Gotta be Dan Boyle, right? OT game winner for the other side in a playoff game? Good lord, Hollywood couldn't make this stuff up.
Edmonton signing Khabibulin for four years. FOUR YEARS!
Keith Ballard: Smacks his own goalie in the head with his stick during a temper tantrum.
JS: Two-way tie between Keith Ballard and... Keith Ballard... Exhibit A: Whacking his goalie on the head Hitman style while trying to break his stick in a fit of childish rage... at least he broke his stick.... ON THE SECOND FUCKING SWING! What the hell was he thinking? Exhibit B: In another betrayal of Vokoun, he tries to catch the airborne puck and for some reason, he bats it into his own goal... He didn't even realize what he had done before his teammate informed him! All in all, rough year for Ballard...
The Crash Test Dummies award (biggest injury of the year)
Nathan: David Booth. This poor bastard was on his way to a great year, then suddenly *BOOM* Concussed by Mike Richards. Yes, Richards should've been suspended, it was the start to a crappy year for the brains of NHL players, which is why this one wins the award. It was the start of the slippery slope.
Buddha: David Booth. When Mike Richards laid out Booth, it put a spotlight on head injuries that has not moved. Coupled with later similar hits in both junior hockey, the AHL, and the NHL, this hit led directly to the first attempt at legislating massive high hits out of the game. While no one believes for a second the NHL has any ability to actually commit to enforcing it, but the rule is on the books, and that is a step at least.
Pierre-Marc Bouchard: huge hit to the Wild offensive game and strategy, signs are pointing to him never returning.
Marc Savard: the straw that broke the camel's back on head hit rule.
JS: David Booth. He had a very promising season unfairly derailed by two seperate concussions: One given by Mike Richards' disgusting hit (which he didn't get suspended for, which is why Cooke wasn't suspended for the hit on Savard...Colin Campbell... more like Colon Campbell!) and another given by Jaroslav Spacek on a rather high shoulder hit to the head, missing a total of 54 games.
The writers at Hockey Wilderness would like to thank their families, the NHL, the NHLPA and Allan Walsh for all the support, highlights, lowlights and Twitroversies (Free Petr? Really) that made up the 2009-2010 season. Without you, this would be boring as hell. Oh ... and Fuck James Sheppard.
Let us know how we did. Vote for your own. Have an idea for a new award? We'd love to hear in the comments.