While the Carolina Hurricanes 2009-10 NHL season fell short of the expectations we brought to the table back in October, that doesn’t mean there weren’t many bright spots for the players and fans this season. Canes Country thought we’d look back at some individuals whose performances were exemplary, and whose efforts and skill inspired us to keep watching. Using the traditional team and annual NHL Awards as a guide, Cory, Bob and I have each nominated a player from the Carolina roster for nine of these awards. Over the next week, we will ask you, our insightful readers, to vote for and tell us why you think one Hurricane player deserves our recognition for a job well done
The Lady Byng Trophy
What is it?
The Lady Byng Memorial Trophy is an annual award given to the player adjudged to have exhibited the best type of sportsmanship and gentlemanly conduct combined with a high standard of playing ability. The winner is selected in a poll of the Professional Hockey Writers' Association at the end of the regular season.
I also researched Lady Byng herself - the first prominent female hockey fan. Marie Evelyn Byng was a member of the British aristocracy, born in 1870, who came to Canada with her husband, a Viscount, in 1921 when he was appointed by the King of England to serve as Canada's Governor General. In Ottawa, they discovered the sport of hockey and attended many Ottawa Senators games. She and her husband first awarded the trophy, which was later named in her honor, in 1925. She returned to England with the Viscount when his five-year term concluded in 1926, but following his death in 1935, (and apparently very much in need of a hockey fix), she came back to live in Canada, at the age of 65. Lady Byng lived in Ottawa, as an avid hockey fan (anyone else thinking Dancing Granny?) and leader in charitable causes especially during the War, till her death in 1949.
Who received the Lady Byng over the last 3 years?
2007, 2008, 2009: Pavel Datsyuk, Detroit Red Wings (making 4 times in a row)
Carolina Hurricanes Assistant Head Coach Ron Francis also won this award three times in his career.
After the jump Bob, Cory and Hockeymom each make their nominations and tell why.
And the nominees are:
Bob nominates: Patrick Dwyer
|2009 - Patrick Dwyer||58||7||5||12||-3||6||0||0||2||0||80||8.8|
Dwyer plays about as clean a game as you can hope for. On top of playing a clean game, he is much more physical than the other Canes' candidates. He finished eighth on the team with 108 hits. (Sutter had 55 and Whitney had 24). To have 108 hits and play a physical game, while only having six minutes in penalty minutes means that he can play tough, and as a gentleman.
Dwyer's low penalty minutes also means that he does not use his stick to slow players or try to gain an advantage. I think he is a solid candidate.
Cory Lavalette nominates: Brandon Sutter
|2009 - Brandon Sutter||72||21||19||40||-1||2||5||0||3||0||168||12.5|
It didn't take long for Sutter to prove he belonged in the NHL, and over the course of this season he's already shown that he's one of the brightest emerging two-way forwards in the entire league. Much is made of Sutter's remarkable two (2, II, TWO!) penalty minutes this season — which coupled with his 21 goals made him the first player since Sergei Berezin in 1999-2000 to be a 20-and-only-2 player — but Sutter's value in both ends goes well beyond that stat. He plays the center, the toughest forward position (Berezin was a winger), and despite his lack of experience and age was never shielded from key situations by coach Paul Maurice. He even wore an "A" for the season finale — an honor rarely bestowed on such a young player.
RIght before our eyes, Sutter emerged into potentially the next Rod Brind`Amour — a player who respects the game, respects his opponents and can do it all. And I think we can all agree that those don't come around every day.
Hockeymomof2 nominates: Ray Whitney
|2009 - Ray Whitney||80||21||37||58||-6||26||7||0||5||0||171||12.3|
Ray Whitney’s season may have had the most professional drama of any player in Carolina this year. The headliner in every NHL trade story in February, he had his displays of skill and cunning on the ice described with awe. Then, with no trade despite all the speculation, the theme of the Whitney Conversation has turned to personal questions regarding his career choices, and it seems even his ethics are scrutinized by many, when none of us really knows what happened and what was asked of him by his GM or his family.
I’d ask that we set that controversy aside a moment, and use this post to bring the focus back to the Ray Whitney on the ice.
During 2009-2010, Ray Whitney was out there for 80 games and, at the age of 37, was second only to Joni Pitkanen for total Time on Ice. Only Eric Staal played more minutes per game among Hurricanes Forwards. In those 25 hours of hockey, Ray was assessed just 26 penalty minutes. Only Brandon Sutter, Brett Carson and Patrick Dwyer averaged fewer PIM per minute of TOI. For skill, the Wizard is hard to top. Sportsmanship? Who almost lost us a game by trying to set up Tuomo Ruutu for his ENG on his first career hattie in December? The guy undressed Zdeno Chara and Dennis Wideman to make the feed to Brandon Sutter ("wow!" - see video below) then parted the Capitals "Red Seas" to blast one in from the ladies tees for an OT winner. The wily winger was also showing the new "small guys" how you succeed in this league when, even on skates, six-feet-zero is a reach. Fiercely competitive - but never forgets to take care of his team and treat the game and his opponents with respect. How old? – and still hasn’t lost a step – just wilier. Leadership? – he wears the A for a reason. He knows the team to a man and accepts responsibility to help make them all better.
High standard of playing ability: check. Gentlemanly on the ice check. Let’s the give the guy kudo’s where due.