Roy, O'Reilly and Lombardi shine bright.
With the NHL Awards just four days away, Anthony Pucik predicts who he thinks will win all the awards in Vegas. Today, he looks at the best general manager, coach and player that exhibited the most sportsmanship this season.
Jack Adams Award
Finalists: Mike Babcock (Detroit Red Wings), Jon Cooper (Tampa Bay Lightning), Patrick Roy (Colorado Avalanche)
All three of these coaches are on this list for different reasons. For Babcock, it is for dealing with a multitude of injuries to key players on his team throughout the year and still managing to keep the Red Wing’s playoff streak alive. For Cooper, it is for turning around a team that was 28th best in the league a year ago to one of the best teams in the Eastern Conference. And for Roy, it was bringing his team from 29th overall last season to third best in the league in just his first season as an NHL coach. For me, there is no question that Roy is the Jack Adams winner this year. What Babcock and Cooper did with their teams was impressive, but what Roy did with his young group in Colorado was something special. I thought the Avalanche had a team capable of winning their division two years ago, only to find them in the cellar of the NHL at season's end. Roy came in and, with little to no changes in the lineup, changed all of that. He made the Avalanche into one of the most dangerous teams in the Western Conference, not one who was a few points away from being worst in the league just a year ago. That young group is Colorado has a potential to be good for a very long time, and Roy is a major cause of that. Roy gets my Jack Adams this year, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he is up for it next season either.
Lady Byng Memorial Trophy
Finalists: Ryan O’Reilly (Colorado Avalanche), Martin St. Louis (New York Rangers), Patrick Marleau (San Jose Sharks)
The Lady Byng is awarded to the player that showed the most sportsmanship throughout the season, and while all three of these players are respected by nearly everyone in the league I don’t think anyone deserves this more than Ryan O’Reilly. O’Reilly only had two penalty minutes this season in eighty games. I’ll repeat that, two penalty minutes total for the entire season. Even more impressive than that, the penalty was for playing with a broken stick. O’Reilly’s discipline throughout the entire season is the embodiment of what it means to play with sportsmanship game in and game out throughout the season, making him without a doubt my Lady Byng Trophy winner.
General Manager of the Year Award
Finalists: Bob Murray (Anaheim Ducks), Dean Lombardi (Los Angeles Kings), Marc Bergevin (Montreal Canadiens)
Behind every great team is a great general manager. A GM not only preps his team before the season starts, but also sometimes has to make decisions in-season that can make or break his team and push them towards the playoffs. Given how well all three of these teams did down the stretch, I would have to say Dean Lombardi is the GM of the Year this season. Lombardi’s decisions as GM both in the offseason and during the season were essential to the Kings’ success this year. Lombardi resigned big time performers like Jake Muzzin, Slava Voynov, Alec Martinez, Dustin Brown, Kyle Clifford and Trevor Lewis over the summer to ensure the core that won a Stanley Cup and had gone to the Western Conference Finals three years in a row would remain intact. He also made one of the best moves at the trade deadline in acquiring Marian Gaborik from the Columbus Blue Jackets. Gaborik was essential to the Kings’ run to the playoffs down the stretch after he was acquired by L.A. and was one of their top players in the playoffs. Given these moves, Lombardi should earn General Manager of the Year.