After being the bridesmaid the first 3 times he was nominated, Henrik Lundqvist was finally crowned king of the goaltenders Wednesday night in Las Vegas. Lundqvist received 17 of 30 first place votes from the NHL’s general managers to give him his first career Vezina Trophy.
It also gave the show one of its more honest and amusing moments as Lundqvist inadvertently caught the censors asleep at the button during his acceptance speech. They probably thought there was nothing for them to worry about since Jonathan Quick wouldn’t be the one speaking into the microphone:
“I can’t believe this. Thank you. It’s definitely a dream come true to stand up here. It feels amazing to be on the same list as Patrick Roy, Dominik Hasek, Marty Brodeur. It means a lot to me.
“I want to thank a few people. My teammates, of course. I would not be standing up here without them. Great support. The entire Rangers organization. Mr. Dolan, not only for this past year but for seven years. It’s been a pleasure to be a part of the Rangers family so thanks for that.
“Oh, f*#k,” Lundqvist quietly – but audibly – uttered before looking somewhat embarrassed and then laughing. “Sorry. But it feels good. I want to thank my family. My mom, dad. My wife, she could not be here tonight, we’re having a baby in a couple of weeks. So thanks Therese for all the support, it means the world. And lastly, Benoit Allaire, the best goalie coach in the world.”
The recognition capped off an incredible year for the 7-year veteran and backbone of the New York Rangers in which he put up career numbers.
The Vezina was the only piece of hardware that was taken home by a Ranger. Lundqvist and Tampa Bay Lightning forward Steven Stamkos were beaten out for both the Hart Trophy and the Ted Lindsay Award by the Pittsburgh Penguins’ Evgeni Malkin. John Tortorella walked away without the Jack Adams Award, which deservedly went to St. Louis Blues coach Ken Hitchcock. Shane Doan beat out Rangers captain Ryan Callahan and Kings captain Dustin Brown for the Mark Messier Leadership Award.
The show overall was a tedious experience to watch from home, filled with two performances by the much maligned Nickelback (personally, since musical performances were introduced, my remote usually gets a workout during that part of the show) and predominantly unfunny jokes (props to Joshua Jackson, knowing how awful his was, for apologizing before delivering it). A 24/7 parody with Tracy Morgan as a prima donna Ranger interspersed into actual footage seemed to polarize viewers in my Twitter timeline – either they thought it was hilarious or thought it was painful and unnecessary (I fall in the latter camp, but you can judge for yourself here if you missed it).Will Arnett’s Brendan Shanahan parody suspension videos were a highlight among the scripted items of the show. Among those “Shanabanned”: Dustin Brown for improperly trying to drink from a water bottle; Alex Ovechkin for not parking between the lines; Gary Bettman for not holding the elevator doors open.
Now that the NHL has chosen to take the awards ceremony to Las Vegas the NHL has to deliver something to the paying live audience, since people do spend a bit of cash to attend the event. Obviously they’re not going to if all they did was get everyone together in a room, dole out the shiny trophies one after another and then an hour later everyone goes their merry way.
If you were home watching you had the luxury of the remote control being at hand in case another star turned in a Matthew Perry-esque monologue. If you DVR’d the whole thing, you were the big winner, being able to move beyond any moments you found unwatchable. Making 100% of the people 100% happy is never going to happen, but the NHL still has a ways to go to find the ideal blend of style and substance for the ceremony. Wednesday night felt like it was more about the style – a game of “how many Hollywood celebrities can we cram into 2 hours” rather than the substance – honoring the best of the best from the NHL season.
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About the Author: Likes: Hockey, the New York Rangers, King Henrik, singing the Rangers goal song, "The Save", the sound skates make against ice, heckling Marty Brodeur. Dislikes: 3-point games, front-office mismanagement, Denis Potvin, overpriced arena beer. Interested? Follow me on Twitter: @CC_927