On Friday, the NHL handed out six awards. Tonight, they’ll announce the five biggies – the Hart, Norris, Vezina Calder and Lindsay awards.
First, a quick rundown of Friday’s award winners:
Jack Adams [Coach of the Year]: Paul MacLean, Senators
General Manager of the Year: Ray Shero, Penguins
Selke [top two-way forward]: Jonathan Toews, Blackhawks
Masterton [perseverance, dedication]: John Harding, Wild
Mark Messier [leadership]: Daniel Alfredsson, Senators
Lady Byng [sportsmanship]: Marty St. Louis, Lightning
NHL Foundation Player [commitment, perseverance, teamwork]: Henrik Zetterberg, Red Wings
King Clancy [humanitarian]: Patrice Bergeron, Bruins
Comments from MacLean, Shero, Alfredsson and Harding are below, but let’s take a quick look at tonight’s nominees:
Hart Trophy [MVP]: Alex Ovechkin: Sidney Crosby, John Tavares.
It’s fair to say the Penguins would have made the playoffs without Crosby. The same cannot be said about the Capitals and Islanders without Ovechkin and Tavares. That said, NHL writers and fans fell in love with Crosby all over again this season and he would have run away with the award if not for a broken jaw cutting short his season.
Who I think should win: Ovechkin
Who I think will win: Crosby
Norris Trophy [top defenseman]: Kris Letang, P.K. Subban, Ryan Suter
Like Crosby, Letang did not play a full season, recording 38 points in 35 games, which could hurt his chances. Subban is a popular choice among Canadian media but of the three Suter probably had the best all-around season in his first year with the Wild, averaging 17:16 a game and posting four goals and 28 assists in 48 games.
Who I think should win: Zdeno Chara
Who I think will win: Subban
Vezina Trophy [top goaltender]: Henrik Lundqvist, Antti Niemi, Sergei Bobrovsky
This one the writers should get right. Lundqvist [24-16-3, 2.05, .926] and Niemi [24-12-6, 2.16, .924] had excellent seasons and both are worthy nominees, but Bobrovsky [21-11-6, 2.00, .932] was sensational for Columbus this season and is actually a worth Hart nominee.
Who I think should win: Bobrovsky
Who I think will win: Bobrovsky
Calder Trophy [top rookie]: Jonathan Huberdeau, Brandon Saad, Brendan Gallagher
I personally think Ottawa’s Cory Conacher is the best player in this year’s rookie class, but it’s hard to make a strong argument against Huberdeau [14-17-31 for Florida], Saad [10-17-27 for Chicago] and Gallagher [15-13-28 for Montreal].
Who I think should win: Conacher
Who I think will win: Huberdeau
Lindsay Award [MVP of the players]: Sidney Crosby, Alex Ovechkin, Marty St. Louis
It’s worth mentioning that Ovechkin has won this award three times, while Crosby has won it once. Not sure how Tavares is left off this list, but it will be a two-player race between Crosby and Ovechkin.
Who I think should win: Ovechkin
Who I think will win: Crosby
PAUL MacLEAN: I'd like to say I'm proud and humbled to accept this award on behalf of the Ottawa Senators and myself. I'd really like to congratulate Bruce Boudreau an outstanding season for Anaheim, and Joel Quenneville, whose outstanding season continues with the Chicago Blackhawks in the Stanley Cup Final.
I'd really like to thank the NHL writers for their votes and their support of our program in Ottawa. Also my wife Sharon and her support throughout the years, along with our children, Erin, AJ, and David, and all the anchors that go along with them. The Ottawa Senators Eugene Melnyk and Bryan Murray for giving a veteran assistant coach a chance to coach in the National Hockey League. Thank you for that opportunity.
Also our organization, our pro scouts, our amateur scouts, led by Tim Murray and Pierre Dorion, great young players that we really showcased this season. Our player development led by Randy Lee, Luke Richardson, and Chris Schwarz. What great work they've done to get these players ready to play in the league.
But most important people that we need to thank is my coaching staff of Dave Cameron, Mark Reeds, Rick Wamsley, and Tim Pattyson, what an outstanding job they did this season getting our team prepared.
And most of all the players. Daniel Alfredsson, what a great award for him tonight. Great credit, what a great help he's been to me along with Chris Phillips, Jason Spezza, Sergei Gonchar, Chris Neil, and Craig Anderson.
The leadership of this group in the two years I've been in Ottawa has been outstanding. They are the big reason why I'm getting this award. I'm a representative of it. We think it's a great day for the Ottawa Senators.
Q. Paul, what were you thinking during the season when you were faced with all these injuries?
PAUL MacLEAN: Well, when it started, it was more like, Who's next? But at the time, once we got kind of through it, we were thinking, We got to find a way to win. That's what good teams do, is find a way to win. So we were challenged early in the season to find ways to win.
I think our leadership group accepted that. The quality of our young players that we were able to bring up accepted that. I think that was a big reason for us having the success we had.
Q. Paul, as a coach, when you have these injuries, what can you physically do as a coach to motivate players, to get the most out of a lot of these young players unexpected to fill these big roles?
PAUL MacLEAN: For me it was important that I continue to set the expectations of the team at a high level, but also be realistic about those expectations, not try to do things that we can't do, not try to play ways we can't play, not try to play players. We had Erik Karlsson and Jason Spezza injured. We didn't have those two players playing in Binghamton. For us to expect someone to come up be those to players is unfair and not realistic.
We tried to give the players realistic expectations and a realistic way to play the game to have success.
I think the work of our goaltenders was a huge help to us. It gave us a ton of confidence. That's a great credit to my assistant coach Rick Wamsley and the work he did with Robin Lehner and Ben Bishop in Binghamton during the lockout. When Craig got injured, those two guys came up and gave us an awful lot of confidence and a big part of our success.
Q. Paul, can you talk a little bit about being an assistant coach for so long. What does it mean to you for perseverance? Today is the two-year anniversary of you being hired.
PAUL MacLEAN: That's a little ironic.
For me, I always felt that I had the abilities to coach, be a head coach, in the National Hockey League. But I also always understood there were only 30 of those opportunities, and that it was difficult to get one of them. There were a lot of people just like me that were qualified or thought they were qualified.
I just wanted to make sure that I continued to try to learn and work at being a coach probably harder than I worked at being a player if I was going to have success and just have patience.
There were a few days I thought I might have gone past the expiration date of having an opportunity. A lot of help from Mike Babcock, the Red Wings, what I learned from them. And when I was looking for the position, having a previous relationship with Bryan Murray from Anaheim helped a lot.
When I got the opportunity, all the work I put into being a coach I think has paid off. I was ready for it. I'm not really overwhelmed by the position at the age that I am and the experience that I have.
I just think sticking to it and still believing in what I did as an assistant coach has helped me now that I've got the opportunity to be the head coach. This kind of gives us credibility that all those times when I was thinking that I could do this, now this kind of gives me the credibility that I was right, I could coach in the league.
Now I'm just scared to freaking death, so I got to do it again (laughter).
Q. You didn't let those players use those injuries as an excuse. That was probably the most important factor, wasn't it?
PAUL MacLEAN: I think that's a factor in it. I'm not sure if it's the most important one.
I think the confidence of our young players that we brought in, their confidence as players, the confidence that Daniel and the leadership group we've mentioned, gave them. Then the confidence that my coaching staff gave them I think had way more to do with the success we had than not letting it be an excuse.
We had over 40 games to play when we lost everybody. We just couldn't have an excuse. There were too many games to play. We had to make sure we found a way to get something out of the season. At that point in time we didn't know what we were going to get out of it after we got all the guys injured. We knew we were going to try to get growth and opportunity for as many young players as we could.
Bryan Murray, Tim, myself, Eugene, the whole organization showed great patience, and great respect for our scouting staff, the fact that we didn't go out and try to trade for four veteran players and give up some of that youth. We said, Why don't we try giving our young players an opportunity to play?
That was probably the best decision that we made, was not to go out and try to replace everybody. Let's just see what we have and see if they can play. If they couldn't, then we might have to go do that. As it turned out, our scouting staff has done a good job of identifying young players.
The fact we were forced to play them was a big part of it. But I think the quality of the players allowed us to play them. That was really a bigger part of it than anything I did or anyone else did, was the quality of our players that we could put in.
Q. Daniel's award, the NHL Mark Messier Leadership Award presented by Bridgestone, what have you seen firsthand?
PAUL MacLEAN: To me they could rename it, if they ever wanted to, it could be Daniel Alfredsson. The two years I've been here in Ottawa, he's been a great help to me. We have conversations all the time about our team, how we're playing, what's going on. He's been a tremendous help for me.
I think it's very well-deserved, especially for this season. I think by far he was the best captain in the National Hockey League with what our team faced and how our team and he continued to compete. I think it's very well-deserved for him. Just adds to his legacy and his Hall of Fame career.
Q. You hope he comes back?
PAUL MacLEAN: I along with everyone in town. I think there's still something there. As I've said all along, the decision that Daniel Alfredsson makes is going to be the right decision and I'm going to be fine with it.
Q. Ray, I'm curious about following up something you were talking a couple days ago. You were talking a little bit about your job. You said while you have some re-dos you'd like, you're confident in your job. How much does this award validate that and tell you you're doing something right and on the right track?
RAY SHERO: I think when I thought I was nominated, and congratulations to Bob Murray and Marc Bergevin for nominations, obviously they're great general managers.
When I was first nominated, number one, it's important I guess if you get nominated to be recognized by your peers, executives. I think that's a great thing.
But, you know, I think the confidence you have in this job kind of grows with the people you work with, with the ownership group, with Mario, Ron, our CEO David Morehouse. I think that's the confidence I have.
By winning the award, does it validate that? It's something I'm proud of, I guess I'm surprised by, something I'll always have on my résumé, and sometime you're going to need it.
But, again, it's a combination of a lot of things that go right for you and your team. These things, a lot of the awards, are not really individual awards. This is one of them where it really goes to the people you work with, whether it's ownership, certainly our coaching staff with Dan, and most importantly the players that play the game on the ice.
It's a group award, and one guy gets recognized. I guess that's the way that goes. I'm very cognizant of the fact of the help you need in order to do something like this, and it's very much appreciated.
Q. It's going to sound pretty basic, but what does it mean to you to win this award? What does it feel like?
RAY SHERO: This award has not been around that long. I know one of the guys that was the forefront of making sure this happens was Brian Burke. It was a great effort by Brian. The 30 general managers, I've been doing this for seven years, was an assistant for 14 years, it's a really, really good group of people that you get to know and deal with. It's a very competitive business.
But when I got the call that I won, it's really exciting. My father won the first-ever Jack Adams back in 1974 as NHL Coach of the Year. That's a name that will be on that trophy forever. That's kind of cool to be recognized by that. My father had his name on the Stanley Cup a couple times, I'm on there once.
It's a great recognition and I don't take it lightly. Really looking at Stan Bowman, Peter Chiarelli, where we all want to be and the job they've done, to be recognized, that's great. It's a great honor. I appreciate that.
Q. Ray, you have received certainly a lot of praise for all the deals you made late in the season. Something you touched on was that maybe the best move you made in the last 12 months was the decision to keep a guy like Paul Martin. Can you talk about how much of your job maybe is based on being patient and not being trigger-happy with big trades, realizing that sometimes what you have is the best thing?
RAY SHERO: I think 14 years as an assist GM, working with someone like David Poile, being more confident in the job as you go along here, any job I'm sure you have, you make mistakes. You try to learn from those.
As I say, do-overs that I would like to have come with experience. It is the patience of the job, the belief in the way you want to do things. With more experience you have confidence. In the end, hopefully it's right.
Looking back, you brought up Paul Martin, the public opinion was certainly against me keeping him or him staying here, just a belief in you hire good people who hopefully give you good recommendations. He got back to the player we thought he was when we signed him. That credit goes to him and the coaching staff for making that happen.
All the trades, all those things, you know, hopefully more of those work than not, for your team. The trades made at the deadline this year, the people and character we brought in, those were all very important.
It didn't get us to where we hoped to be, and that's to still be playing right now for the Stanley Cup, but to bring in the guys like Murray, Morrow, Jokinen, Iginla, some of the experience they brought, imparted on our group, our kids, even our coaches and myself, I think is very important moving forward for this team and the players.
Q. You talk about patience, then you talk about a deadline window in which you got a whole bunch of work done bringing in all those guys. Define for us, if you can, the moments when you have to make decisions that are patient like Paul Martin, and the moment when you have to pull the trigger and make some trades? Does a GM ever absolutely figure out the right time for both of those?
RAY SHERO: I think part of that is talk about a little bit of experience. I said the first day I was hired that I needed good people around me to give me good recommendations. Paul Martin was one thing that was more of a patient approach. Jordan Staal, last year I thought there was an opportunity to sign him. That turned quickly the other direction, making a decision quickly to move in a different direction.
I think experience, instinct, it comes to you that this is what you should do. It comes in the confidence in what you're doing. That confidence doesn't mean you're right. In anything you do, you have to be decisive. But that's what the information you have is at the time.
You hope that works. In this business, as a general manager, you need to be right more than you're wrong, 'cause you're going to be wrong. Making those decisions, there's a time and a place for each, for patience and action. As a manager, you want to hopefully find the balance between the two.
Q. As the captain, how did you keep your teammates motivated and in line when you were losing guys left and right to injuries throughout the season?
DANIEL ALFREDSSON: Fortunately, they didn't all go down at the same time. We got off to a good start, then we lose Jason, which is a big loss for us. We still were able to win games. We knew long-term maybe it's going to be tougher.
Then a few more weeks, we lose Erik and Milan at the same time. Now we were in tough.
I think the coaching staff did a tremendous job just keeping us focused. We can't worry about things that we can't control. It is what it is. We got good hockey players in here.
Fortunately we were able to win some more games. Craig was playing unbelievable. Then he went down with an ankle injury. Fortunately we had great depth in goaltending that allowed us to stay in games.
I think because it was spread out and we were able to win some games in between gave us confidence that, We can do this. It took a lot of hard work. All the guys that came up and played did a good job of following our system and getting adjusted pretty quick.
I'd say goaltending is a huge part of it, but also us believing that we could still do it as a team. We knew everybody had to pull their weight, and they did.
Q. Daniel, curious, your reaction to Paul being named the Coach of the Year.
DANIEL ALFREDSSON: Yeah, it's a great day for our organization. Paul has had a great start to his head coaching career. I think he's been well-groomed in Detroit, knew what to do when he came in. He was nominated last year, then winning it this year, it's quite an accomplishment.
His leadership has been something that we definitely needed as an organization. We were kind of going backwards until he came in, steadied the ship, got us going in the right direction.
It's very well-deserved. I'm really happy for him.
Q. You're in the process of deciding what you're going to do for the future. Where are you in your thought process?
DANIEL ALFREDSSON: It hasn't really started yet, to be honest. I just allowed myself to take it easy, spend some time with the family, to relax, get a feeling of how my body feels, how I feel.
Probably the next few weeks here I'll start thinking more concrete about it. The people around town has been unbelievable. They've all been very positive and supportive.
Q. What does it mean to you to get an award named after a guy like Messier, knowing his leadership?
DANIEL ALFREDSSON: It's probably the most - how do I put it - humbling experience I guess. Mark has been one of the guys you look up to. Throughout my career, him, Gretzky, Yzerman. I was fortunate enough to meet Mark in '94 in Sweden before I came over. They were doing their tour during the lockout. Came out, had dinner with us. I got to meet him. Just a great person.
Not only person. He could play the skill game. He could play the physical game. Offensive, defensive, good on faceoffs. He did it all. The biggest thing with him, he brought the team together, he made the team, you know, perform to his levels. That's what great players like that do.
It's a great honor to get this award, for sure.
Q. You said you're going to go through a few weeks of a process. What kind of process do you think you need to go through?
DANIEL ALFREDSSON: Talk to my wife, talk to my agent. I'm going to talk to Bryan as well, and Paul, just to get a feel, I guess, for how I feel. I can't say I have a plan exactly how I'm going to follow that, but I'm going to talk to people and go from there and see where it takes me.
Q. Josh, with all the people you've really inspired, especially with that first-round series against the Blackhawks, have you given more thought to how you'd like to move forward in terms of volunteering, charity work, to help fight MS?
JOSH HARDING: Actually funny you ask. We just launched our Harding's Hope charity. It's a charity, like you were saying, to help support, help out people with the struggles that come with MS.
I've been wanting to do that ever since I got diagnosed, but I wanted to keep it out of the way while I was playing hockey, for no distractions, for nothing like that.
But, you know, this charity is going to help out a lot of people that need help, especially what I've been through, I've actually lived it. I know the complications that come with this disease. Anything that I can do to help, I'm definitely going to do.
Q. Did you find more people from the medical community approaching you, especially as more people started to hear your story?
JOSH HARDING: Yeah. You know, there's a lot of people that want to help. The support has been unbelievable. I can't say enough about everybody.
The one tough thing about MS is every MS is different. Just because it's working for somebody else doesn't necessarily mean it's going to work for you.
Just with whether you talk medications, everything that kind of comes with it, everything is different. You got to kind of find out what works for yourself.
That's what happened during the course of the year. I was having a really tough time to find out what worked for me. Just the support and everything from all the doctors, from everybody, has been outstanding.
Q. Josh, what did you do to keep your focus when you might have wanted to quit mentally?
JOSH HARDING: I don't know if I ever really wanted to quit. I found out about the diagnosis, and obviously it hit me hard. But right away I knew I had to do something to kind of get back at it and find out what would work for me.
During the year I had that tough stretch. But I don't think it ever crossed my mind that I was going to give up or anything like that.
Fortunately for myself, I had a great group around me that supported me, that was always there for me, including my family, my friends, my teammates, the Wild. Absolutely everybody was on my side. I couldn't thank enough people for that.
Q. What do you see for the future of your career?
JOSH HARDING: What do I see for the future of my career? Kind of to control what I can control. That's the biggest thing with MS, you don't know how you're going to feel the next day. You might feel good for the next 10 years. You don't really know what's going to come the next day.
But for myself, I'm going to control what I can control with eating right, with exercise, making sure that I'm in shape, and just mentally be focused on the goal.