NHL Awards 2012 Winners: Erik Karlsson's Victory Should Spark Change at Ceremony
Ottawa Senators star Erik Karlsson's Norris Trophy victory on Wednesday must spark change in how defensemen are recognized at future NHL Award ceremonies.
The Norris Trophy is for the league's best all-around defenseman, and while no one can deny that Karlsson was by far the brightest offensive star among blueliners this season, he wasn't even close to being a top defensive player.
There needs to be two trophies for defensemen at the NHL Awards event. One for offensive performance, and one for defensive performance.
Karlsson didn't win by a huge margin, but it's still saddening that a star like Shea Weber, who every year is consistently elite as a defensive presence on the ice for the Nashville Predators, cannot receive the recognition he deserves.
Karlsson edged Weber by a 1,069 to 1,057 vote count the second straight year Weber has lost by the slimmest of margins.— Scott Burnside (@ESPN_Burnside) June 20, 2012
How much better does Weber have to play to be recognized as a Norris Trophy winner? Weber, and Boston Bruins captain Zdeno Chara, who was the other finalist for the Norris Wednesday night, would probably be the dream pairing for NHL general managers.
I was one of the 49 who gave Shea Weber my 1st place vote. Most coaches I've spoken with would take him over Karlsson at the end of a game.— Adam Proteau (@Proteautype) June 20, 2012
If we have a trophy for the forward who scores the most points (Art Ross) and a trophy for the forward who excels defensively (Frank J. Selke), then why can't we have two trophies for defensemen?
Here's how this would work.
Bobby Orr Award
This would be given to the best offensive defenseman. Players who score a ton of points, excel on the power play and use their phenomenal skating ability to help their team, etc., would be finalists for this award. Bobby Orr revolutionized the position from an offensive standpoint, and was the first defenseman to notch 100 points in a single season.
Doug Harvey Award
This would be given to the best defensive defenseman. Players who have success against top players, win puck battles consistently, hit hard and often, are tough to play against, have a good plus/minus rating, etc., would be considered as finalists for this award. Doug Harvey is a Montreal Canadiens legend, and won seven Norris trophies.
Should there be two trophies for defensemen?
Karlsson's victory on Wednesday night needs to jump start the discussion to create two awards for defensmen at the end of each season. It's not fair to players like Chara and Weber, who at the end of the day, are the best at what their position requires (defense), yet they don't win this trophy.
Weber has never won it, and Chara has won it once, even though the Bruins captain has been the toughest defenseman to play against since the 2008-09 season, when he won the award.
It's not like Weber and Chara weren't impressive offensively, either. Weber finished with 49 points, which was the second highest total of his career, while Chara set a new personal best with 52 points this season.
Paul Coffey, who is second on the all-time scoring list for defenseman, won the Norris Trophy three times. He was never the best defenseman from a defensive standpoint when he played. Then you have defensive stalwarts, such as Scott Stevens, who dominated in his own end every year and still put up decent point totals, but never won a single Norris trophy.
There's absolutely no reason to have one trophy for defensemen handed out at the end of each season. Recognizing both aspects of the position is the best way to reward the best NHL defensemen every year.
Nicholas Goss is an NHL Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report and was also the organization's on-site reporter for the 2011 Stanley Cup Final in Boston. He has covered the Boston Bruins first hand since the 2011 SCF.
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