Welcome, one and all, to the greatest day in all of sports. There are far too many award shows now, from the Emmys to the ESPYs, and yet none of them award anything close to the awards fans actually want to give out. Everyone always wants to focus on the positives in life. Giving everyone who played a trophy isn't going to create winners, now is it?
We here at Hockey Wilderness decided a few years back to give out the awards everyone else was too afraid to put on prime time TV. No, Dion Sanders is not getting an award, but we will be giving out some hardware to folks who normally wouldn't get an invitation to Las Vegas if they offered to take take Jim Balsillie for a... vacation.
Since we don't have the budget to hire a big name star to host the ceremony, we did what the NHL does, and we booked Jay Mohr.
After the jump, the awards, as chosen by our crack staff of writers.
The Boy Named Sue award (Best season by a player with a girl's name)
Nathan: Marian Gaborik. Third in the NHL in goals, 15th in points (ironically one point behind runner-up Marian Hossa) on an Eastern Conference top seeded Rangers team. I miss him. I miss his scent. I miss his musk.
Bryan: Evgeni Malkin. I don't speak Russian, so I don't know, but I'm not giving it to Gaborik. With my lack of Russian knowledge, I have to assume that there are women named Evegeni. Go ahead and prove me wrong.
JS: Marian Gaborik. 41 goals in (surprisingly) 82 games. Sigh.
Jesse: Sidney "Cindy" Crosby. A little bit of a stretch, I'll agree, but his return is necessary for the NHL to move forward. I'm not necessarily a fan of the guy, but he's a superstar name in a big market that the NHL can market. Fans love superstars, and Crosby is about as big as they get.
The Stan Neckar and Kārlis Skrastiņš memorial award (Most unpronounceable name)
Nathan: It's still Dustin Byfuglien. Sure, he's playing just 116 miles from where he grew up, but I'm guessing that even the best fans in the world don't get Byfuglien's name right all the time.
Bryan: Taylor Hall. It's not tough to say, it's impossible. Mostly because every time I try, all that comes out is "flop."
JS: Nikita Nikitin. Sure, it's not that bad, but it turns into quite a tongue-twister when you repeat it over and over very fast. (Editor's note - we have no idea why JS is saying Nikita Nikitin over and over.)
Jesse: For me, it's Grant Clitsome. Too hard to say his name without snickering.
They play hockey where? (Best season by a player from a non-traditional market)
Nathan: Steven Stamkos. 60 goals and the kid is still under appreciated and under the radar. Best talent in the league, bar none.
Bryan: This has to be Stamkos. 60 goals? 60? No one on the Wild even had 60 points. This kid is ridiculous.
JS: Steven Stamkos. No-brainer. 60 goals.
Jesse: Stamkos is the obvious answer, but I'm going to throw Zucker out there as well. First Nevada-born NHL player is a big deal.
The Todd Fedoruk's original cheekbone memorial award (Guy who took the biggest ass-whooping of the year)
Nathan: Cody McCormick
Bryan: Not sure if the award goes to the guy doing the beating, or the guy taking the beating, but I'm going with Matt Kassian vs Darcy Hordichuk. Not only does the idiot Hordichuk go for it once, but twice. Solid decision making skills, Darcy.
JS: I have watched about zero fights outside of Wild games, so by default, I'll say Brad Staubitz. He sucks.
Jesse: Taylor Hall getting stepped on by his own teammate was pretty brutal.
The Tore Vikingstad award (Name which most strikes fear into the hearts of men)
Nathan: Zdeno Chara
Bryan: I have watched 11 seasons of Minnesota Wild hockey. There is nothing that terrifies me more than goals being scored. Thus, Steven Stamkos gets this award from me.
JS: I'd have to say Zdeno Chara. I would hate to have to block his one-timers. I'd also be scared shitless if I pissed him off in any way.
Jesse: Homer Award #1 = Matt Kassian. Only one moron wanted to fight this guy, and he got beat down twice.
The Dikembe Mutumbo Mpolondo Mukamba Jean-Jacques Wamutombo award (Best shot-blocker)
Nathan: Josh Gorges. His 250 shots blocked leads the league by 20%. Unreal numbers.
Bryan: Josh Gorges. Hell, he likely made more saves than Carey Price.
JS: It pains me to take this away from Greg Zanon, but I'm giving this to Josh Gorges for two reasons: 1. He has a 51-block advantage over his closest competitor, which is bananas. 2. He's pretty much the only player I like on the Habs. Very underrated defensive defenseman.
Jesse: Ryan Callahan. The Rangers blocked a ton of shots, and the Captain of the Blueshirts was a big presence on the team.
The only joke that's funny in this whole thing is the Forsberg part.
The Summer's Eve award (Biggest douche-bag in the NHL)
Nathan: Mike Milbury. I don't give a shit if he's not a player. He's a misogynist prick who blames people for their own injuries and beats up little kids (allegedly). Runner Up - The racist Boston Bruins fans.
Bryan: Derek Zona.
JS: Maxim Lapierre. What a tool. No player can even rival that smirk of his in terms of the level of... pissed-offitism it gives me. Yeah, I invented a word, big whoop, wanna fight about it? (Editor's note - Please accept JS' challenge. I would like to nominate him for the next award next season.)
Jesse: Maxim Lapierre and his finger-munching ways.
The Donatello, Michelangelo, Leonardo and Raphael award (Biggest turtle)
Nathan: Darcy Hordichuk. Turtling against Brad Staubitz? Twice? In one game? Douchewagon.
Bryan: Darcy Hordichuk. Who the hell waits to fight Brad Staubitz for ten years then runs from him?
JS: Darcy Hordichuk by a country mile.
Jesse: Darcy Hordichuk. Not even close.
The Better Luck Next Time award (the player with the worst season of the year)
Nathan: Scott Gomez. 11 points? 2 goals? $7.5M? Wow. Runner-up: Eric Boulton (51 gp, 0 pts, -12)
Bryan: Scott Gomez. Hands down. How the Habs didn't send him to the AHL and bury that contract is beyond me.
JS: Nino Niederreiter. ONE GOAL in 55 games? ONE? -29? Only his teammate Milan Jurcina was worse with a -34, but he plays nearly 9 full minutes more per game. 5th overall? I had high hopes for this guy, I hope he bounces back in a big way.
Jesse: Scott Gomez. 2 goals and 11 points from a guy making $7.357 million has to be a kick in the taint to Montreal. Suckers...
The Martin Skoula award (Biggest mistake by a team or player)
Nathan: The Habs relationship with Pierre Gauthier
Bryan: Did the Oilers really think Cam Barker was the answer? I mean... really?
JS: For the Wild, I'd say it's putting Latendresse back in the lineup before he was completely ready. Biggest mistake by a player... that would probably be a two-way tie between Setoguchi's gem in the shootout against Montreal and Ilya Kovalchuk sending a puck into his own net to give Cam Ward a goal.
Jesse: San Jose Sharks. Next time, open the door for Havlat.
The Crash Test Dummies award (biggest injury of the year)
Nathan: Pierre-Marc Bouchard. The prime example of headshots, lack of "player safety" and the potential for a cheap shot to end a career thanks to concussions.
Bryan: It should be Sidney Crosby. This should have been the wake up call the NHL needed. Instead, they say they don't have an issue. However, my award goes to Brenden Shanahan and the Department of Player Safety Jokes. Never before have I seen the public relations of a company injured in such a way as Shanahan did this season. Nothing to see here, folks.
JS: This goes to the entire Wild team. 47 different players. That's two full teams. Crazy.
Jesse: See above.
The Optimus Prime award (Biggest transformation by a player)
Nathan: Matt Cooke (vomit)
Bryan: I'm going with JS' nominee here. Dany Heatley should have been the scorer. Instead, he became the leader. People want to bash him, and that's fine (we used to, too), but he had a hell of a season when the intangibles are taken into account.
JS: Matt Cooke would be an easy choice, but I'm not ready to tolerate him yet, so I'd say Dany Heatley for his transformation from big-time sniper into a decent two-way player.
Jesse: Well, since THE Prime is basically thebomb.com, I'll vote for Optimus Prime...oh, I can't?....
The Icarus award (Great start, horrible finish)
Nathan: The Wild. No doubt.
Bryan: Never fly too close to the sun, folks. The regression up there is horrible. The award goes to the Wild, of course.
JS: Of course, the team award would go to the Wild, but the player that I would award this to would probably be Marc-André Bergeron. After starting the season out with 16 points in the first 15 games, he got 8 points in the next 27 games and then he missed 39 of the last 40 games due to injury.
Jesse: The Minnesota Wild. Sigh...
The Coach Bombay award (Horrible start, great finish)
Nathan: The St. Louis Blues. Well done Mr. Hitchcock.
Bryan: Even with their collapse eminent, the Blues never should have been where the are. Ken Hitchcock should be running the US economy.
JS: The team award would go to the Blues. Amazing season by them. The player award would go to Tyler Ennis. He had 5 points in 15 games before suffering an injury. He finished the season with 29 points in 33 games.
Jesse: St. Louis Blues. Hands down.
The ''This isn't what I ordered'' award (Biggest dud off-season/trade-deadline acquisition)
Nathan: Devin Setoguchi. But hey, he got hit by a car.
Bryan: I'm going to stick to the script and say Tom Gilbert. Even thought I have other nominees, this is the answer you all want me to give so you can continue your "I love Nick Schultz meme." You're welcome.
JS: Ville Leino. Yuck.
Jesse: Until he proves otherwise, Jay Bouwmeester will continue to win this award in my book.
The ''Ooh! A piece of candy!'' award (Most pleasant surprise)
Nathan: Mike Smith. Wow.
Bryan: Vancouver losing in the first round. Their fans are great (except the really d-bag ones). I still can't stand that team.
JS: For Wild fans, it's likely Nick Johnson, but I would think Jason Garrison would win this one for his surprising 16-goal campaign on the Panthers' blueline.
Jesse: Florida Panthers. Great season out of a lot of guys. Considering the team was basically thrown together this offseason, I have to give the Cats major props. It's hard to come together as a team that quickly.
The Nelson Muntz award (Best HA HA! moment)
Nathan: Thank You Los Angeles!
Bryan: Pierre McGuire. Enough said.
JS: Tie between Martin Havlat forgetting how to jump over the boards and Edmonton acquiring Cam Barker.
Jesse: Devin Setoguchi falling flat on his ass in the shootout. Painful for a Wild fan, but hilarious to the rest of the NHL