After the grind of a tough regular season and an unbelievable Stanley Cup playoff, the 2010 campaign officially comes to a close with the NHL Awards coming on Thursday night in Las Vegas. Even though the big trophy has already been awarded there is still plenty of hardware to hand out to some of the league's top talent.
While most hockey players would say that the only trophy they care about is the Stanley Cup, nobody can deny that they wouldn't mind receiving honors for their performances over the course of a season. Individual awards have highlighted some of the best single-season performances we have ever seen.
The best thing about the awards is that they have the potential to foreshadow a player's career. They can kick start great careers as well as capture a future legend in his prime.
Flashback to 1990 when the Edmonton Oilers captured Lord Stanley for the first time without perennial all-star Wayne Gretzky. There were many award winners 20 years ago that this year's nominees would love to share honors with.
With players such as Mario Lemieux, Steve Yzerman and Joe Sakic gone, we are now entering a new era of stars headlined by Sidney Crosby, Alex Ovechkin and Steve Stamkos to name a few.
Here's a look at who starred at the NHL Awards from 1990.
Most people's best memory of Ray Bourque was seeing Joe Sakic hand him the Stanley Cup after his last NHL game with the Colorado Avalanche. During his day with the Boston Bruins, his name was engraved on trophies on several occasions.
Exactly 20 years ago, Bourque and the Bruins were coming off of a crushing defeat of the Edmonton Oilers in the Stanley Cup Finals for the second time in three years. The Bruins blue-liner posted 84 points in 76 regular season games before averaging a point per game in 17 playoff contests.
For Bourque, it was his third Norris Trophy in four seasons. He would also go on to win the award the following season, as well as in 1994.
The Montreal native enjoyed 21 tremendous seasons in the NHL highlighted by his Cup win in 2001. His 1,579 career points lead all defensemen and The Hockey News ranked him as the 14th best player of all-time in 1998.
Hockey was in his blood, but who knew his father's skill would carry over?
Brett Hull was drafted in the sixth round of the 1984 Entry Draft by the Calgary Flames but caught fire with the St. Louis Blues following a trade in 1988. He tallied over 40 goals in his first full season with the Blues, but it was his performance in 1990 that placed him among the league's elite.
Hull lit the lamp 72 times while riding shotgun with Adam Oates, forming one of the best offensive duos for the next three seasons. He may have not been the leading scorer or most valuable player, but he did have good discipline on the ice as he only took 12 minor penalties all season.
Alongside Oates, Hull never scored fewer than 70 goals and also posted a career-high 86 in 1991. By the time he retired in 2005 he had been recognized as one of the best snipers ever to skate in the NHL.
Although his 741 goals rank him third on the all-time list, his most famous shot was made with his foot inside the blue paint as he notched the Cup-winning goal for the Dallas Stars in 1999. Some would say that the "Golden Brett" did it all during his 18 seasons on the ice.
The King Clancy Memorial Trophy is awarded to the player which best exemplifies leadership qualities both on and off the ice. In 1990, the award was given to Kevin Lowe for holding the position of honorary chairman of the Edmonton City Christmas Bureau. Even while competing with the Oilers and being actively involved with the NHLPA, Lowe found a way to donate his time to a charity that fed the needy throughout Edmonton.
This would prove to be the only individual award Lowe would win during his career, though it's one that anyone would be proud of. These types of awards are great to show people how athletes contribute to their communities as well as for their teams.
Lowe won five Cups with the Oilers and was part of the New York Rangers when they ended a 54-year drought in 1994.
The Lester B. Pearson Award (which has been recently renamed as the "Ted Lindsay Award) is the one trophy that speaks volumes about a player's reputation around the NHL. It's no surprise that Mark Messier had the honor of winning this award two times during his Hall of Fame career.
What separates this award from the Hart Memorial Trophy is that the players are the ones who vote on the winner. Considering that Messier was able post a career-high 129 points while leading the Oilers to their first Cup without Wayne Gretzky, the players made the right choice.
Messier would later go on to captain the New York Rangers to the 1994 Stanley Cup after making what many call "the prediction" in the previous round against the New Jersey Devils. He also played for Vancouver Canucks for three seasons before heading back to the Big Apple.
By the time his career ended, he was only six goals shy of 700 and was second all-time in points with 1,887. Messier solidified himself as perhaps the best leader ever in hockey.
It's hard to believe that Patrick Roy wasn't picked before the Montreal Canadiens snagged him with the 51st overall selection. What's even harder to believe is that Craig Billington, who was the first goaltender selected that year, served as Roy's backup from 1996 to 1999.
Roy's Vezina Trophy in 1990 was his second consecutive in a four-year span in which he won the award three times. He posted a 31-16-5 record with a 2.53 goals against average. Even though he played spectacular in the post-season the Habs were eliminated in the second round.
After capturing two Stanley Cups with the Canadiens, Roy was on his way to Colorado to play for the Avalanche, a team that was formally the rival Quebec Nordiques just one season prior. He went on to lead the Avs to the Cup that season and once again in 2001.
He retired in 2003 as the winningest goaltender of all-time, a record that was held until Martin Brodeur's 552nd career win in 2009. He finished with a 2.54 GAA and shut out the opposition 66 times.
The Calder Memorial Trophy is given to the player with the best performance in his rookie season. Even though Sergei Makarov was a rookie, it certainly wasn't his first trip around the block.
The Soviet national star spent 13 seasons in his homeland before playing in the NHL. The Calgary Flames selected Makarov with their 12th round pick in 1983 (231st overall).
By the time he suited up in Calgary in 1990 he was one of the oldest members of the team at 31 years old. He lit the lamp 24 times and added 62 assists as the Flames failed to get passed the first round after winning the Stanley Cup one year earlier.
Makarov ran away with the Calder, prompting the league to change their rules regarding the age for candidacy. The "Makarov Rule" says that a player cannot be named rookie of the year if he is 26 years of age or older.
His NHL career lasted six seasons but made his biggest accomplishments on the international stage. He was named to the IIHF Centennial Team and was inducted into their Hall of Fame in 2001.
Rick Meagher went undrafted after four years at Boston University and worked his way to the NHL through the Montreal Canadiens' farm system. He was finally able to crack an NHL roster on a permanent basis just one year after the Hartford Whalers where awarded an expansion team.
Meagher scored 24 goals in 1982 and was then traded to the New Jersey Devils where he started playing primarily as a checking forward. He spent three seasons with the Devils before playing his final six seasons with the St. Louis Blues.
He was named captain of the Blues prior to the 1989-90 season where he spent the majority of his ice time playing against the opposition's top forwards. At the end of the season the Blues opted to choose newly acquired Scott Stevens to be team captain instead of Meagher. Oddly enough, neither were playing with the Blues by 1992.
Bob Murdoch spent 11 seasons playing in the NHL before he started coaching. He was only a head coach for three seasons but managed to pick up a Jack Adams award in 1990 with the Winnipeg Jets.
Two seasons after his first head coaching stint with the Chicago Blackhawks, Murdoch took the Jets to 85 points from 64 in 1989. That led to a first round match-up with the Edmonton Oilers as the Jets took the eventual champions to the distance before bowing out.
Murdoch's Jets dropped down to 63 points the following season, leading to his dismissal. He took an assistant coaching job with the San Jose Sharks from 1991 to 1993 before leaving to coach in the German league (DEL) for six seasons.
The Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy is awarded (a maximum of one time only) to the player who best demonstrates perseverance and dedication to the game of hockey. Twenty years ago, there couldn't have been anyone more deserving than Gord Kluzak.
Throughout his career with the Boston Bruins, Kluzak went through numerous knee injuries. One incident was so severe that he was forced to miss an entire season after major reconstructive surgery. He then returned to the lineup and would injury his knee once again, leading to another lost season.
Kluzak played three games in 1989 and miraculously suited up for the Bruins eight times in 1990, picking up two assists in the process. After two games the following season, Kluzak retired from professional hockey at the young age of 27.
In 1994, Kluzak graduated from Harvard University after taking Economics. He currently works for NESN as a studio analyst.
It appears both the players and the members of the Professional Hockey Writer's Association saw eye to eye on Mark Messier's season 20 years ago.
After all, he took a team that lost the best player hockey has ever seen and brought them back to the promise land. The emotional leadership proved to motivate the Oilers who were nearly upset in the first round by the Winnipeg Jets before virtually steamrolling through the rest of the playoffs.
When all was said and done, Messier was the center of attention every game and performed when his team needed him to. For that, he was the most valuable player in the National Hockey League in 1990.
Presidents' Trophy—Boston Bruins (46-25-9)
Prince of Wales Trophy—Boston Bruins
Clarence S. Campbell Bowl—Edmonton Oilers
Art Ross Trophy—Wayne Gretzky (40-102-142)
NHL Plus/Minus Award—Paul Cavallini (+38)
William M. Jennings Trophy—Reggie Lemelin/Andy Moog (232)
Lester Patrick Trophy—Len Ceglarski
Conn Smythe Trophy—Bill Ranford