I had the opportunity to attend the NHL awards at the Palms Resort in Las Vegas, Nevada last Wednesday.
Never having attended one before, I certainly didn’t know what to expect once showtime came. Prior to the actual show, fans were invited to gather around the red carpet, where players, their families, and the NHL's top dogs walked en route to the Pearl Concert Theater.
Many of the nominees and regular season winners stopped to be interviewed prior to walking in. And some, such as Henrik Sedin, Steven Stamkos, Sidney Crosby, and Martin Brodeur, who had already secured their individual awards, would be presented with their hardware and later replayed to viewers to make it seem live.
Once inside the hotel, guests made their way to their seats and were briefed by the producer on how the show would run, and when to produce applause or reactions to pre-taped events, such as the performance by Snoop Dogg.
Audience members were forbidden to take any pictures or videos. But seeing how I don’t attend league award shows often, I figured I would risk getting told to turn my cameras off anyway.
Compared to past NHL award shows I’ve watched, this one was much edgier with it’s jokes and flow. Known as more of a reserved sport to many, hockey has always tried to stay clear of things that would reflect poorly on the league.
But this show pushed the envelope several times, which made the experience much more enjoyable. The Russian humor provided by Pavel Datsyuk and Alex Ovechkin’s two part speech showed the players' more colorful sides.
Can we see a show hosted by Ovie himself one day? That might be a tough sell, but I guarantee it would make for good television. Even Jay Mohr was funny, despite hating hockey.
On the award front, Datsyuk won his third straight Selke Trophy for best defensive forward, but would lose out on his fourth straight Lady Bing to Martin St.Louis.
Speaking of St. Louis, he referred to his blackberry to read off his thank you’s, which was definitely a sign of the times.
As for Ovechkin, he won his third straight Ted Lindsay Award (formerly known as the Lester B. Pearson Award) for most outstanding player, as voted by the NHLPA. He would miss out on the Hart Memorial (MVP) trophy to Henrik Sedin, however, who deserved it slightly more in my opinion.
Ilya Bryzgalov came in second to Ryan Miller in the Vezina, awarded for best goalie. While I think most of the voting was based off Olympic performance since I enjoy conspiracy theories am a true Russian patriot, I believe that Bryz was the backbone to a dying franchise. Miller's stats plummeted after the Olympic break.
Being a Devils fan, I would have been more upset if Brodeur had won yet another one over Bryz, but he finished third in the voting.
After the award show concluded, many were invited to the after-party by the pool section of the resort, where we got to rub shoulders with NHL elite such as commissioner Gary Bettman.
There was definitely something about going to the bar, looking to your left, and seeing Luc Robitaille ordering a drink, or turning around and bumping into Brett Hull.
From a hockey fan’s perspective, it just got better and better as more people filled into the open space. Making a special appearance was none other than Lord Stanley’s Cup, which was placed on a stand in the middle of the pool for all to see.
Players from past and present joined party goers, award presenters, and other NHL execs for a night which ended up being very enjoyable for yours truly, although I wished more players were in attendance.
This aritcle was originally posted on http://www.fromrussiawithglove.com/