NHL Lady Byng Finalists: Nice Guys Finish First
The Lady Byng Memorial Trophy is awarded each year to the NHL "player adjudged to have exhibited the best type of sportsmanship and gentlemanly conduct combined with a high standard of playing ability."
The Lady Byng Trophy has been awarded every year since 1925 when it was donated by the wife of former Governor General of Canada, Vimy Ridge. Marie Evelyn Moreton (Lady Byng) was such a fan of the sport of hockey that she decided to donate her own trophy to the sport.
She first awarded the trophy to Frank Nighbor of the Ottawa Senators and it has since been held by hockey greats such as Frank Boucher (seven times), Red Kelly (four, and the last defenseman to win), Wayne Gretzky (five), Pavel Datsyuk (four) and most recently, Martin St. Louis.
St. Louis will take a run at a repeat this year against Red Wing legend Nicklas Lidstrom and Dallas Stars hopeful, Loui Eriksson.
Martin St. Louis
The small productive forward was the winner of this award last year and is looking to keep his title.
The 2011 season saw St. Louis blast 31 goals home and more impressively notch 68 assists (second in the NHL), placing him second in the league in points with 99. In 82 games played this year for the Tampa Bay Lightning, St. Louis saw the inside of the penalty box six times.
He knew his team was better off without out of the box, given that him and his power-play line mate, Steven Stamkos, were absolutely lethal on the power play. St. Louis should have a good run at a repeat for the Lady Byng this year.
The captain of the Detroit Red Wings has once again led his team to the promised land of the playoffs by playing in all 82 games (one of only two Red Wings to do so) and notching 62 points in the process.
The Wings leader did so while only heading to the sin bin 10 times during the season, an incredible feat by a defenseman, especially in today's NHL.
Lidstrom always controls his stick and his sheer brilliance at his position allows him to defend amongst top NHLers while taking only a fraction of the penalties. Nick has a solid chance at becoming the first defenseman since Red Kelly in 1954 to take home the Lady Byng.
Loui Eriksson was one heck of a surprise for the Dallas Stars. They may not have made the playoffs this year, but this kid sure did help them make a run at the eighth spot.
With 73 points on the season, Eriksson finished second in Dallas scoring while playing in all but three games. Pretty impressive considering he only took a trip to the penalty box four times in 79 games. He literally had more goals just on the power-play (10) than he did penalty minutes.
Not a bad way to get your name on the ballot for this trophy. It should be a close race for this trophy.
My Pick/Your Pick?
I think I'm going to have to pick Nicklas Lidstrom to win this award. He may have had the most penalties of the three finalists, but he did so as a defenseman.
In today's NHL game it is nearly impossible to watch a defenseman go three games without a penalty, nonetheless 82 games with only 10. Not to mention he put up one of the best offensive seasons of his career at age 41.
The man is almost a half a century old and is competing with the top NHL athletes in the world. Eriksson and St. Louis will surely be back to try again, but this year I think this guy deserves some recognition for gentleman he is.
Let me hear your picks in the comment section!