After a valiant effort to defend their crown and move out of the 1st round of the NHL Playoffs, the Chicago Blackhawks season is over. So it is time for me to take it all in, and determine who will win my seasonal awards.
Jonathan Toews is up for the Selke Award, and he was the Conn Smythe Award winner last season. Duncan Keith won last season for best defenseman with the Norris, but I have a feeling that my prestigious awards mean much more to them.
Again, this is my opinion regarding the winners of these awards, thus they are open to debate. Please voice your opinion.
And here are the categories:
Rookie of the Year
Low Point in Season
High Point in Season
Player to Watch in 2011-2012
Least Valuable Player
Most Valuable Player
Corey Crawford is the winner of the first award in a category that he ran away with.
Crawford snatched the goaltender position away from veteran Marty Turco on his way to 57 regular season starts, and appeared in all seven post-season games.
His record of 33-18-6 and GAA of 2.30 were just what the Blackhawks needed this season. His efforts throughout the series with Vancouver are what he will likely be remembered for most. He kept them in every game, and showed that he truly is a netminder that the team should invest in and build around.
Patrick Kane Scored 100th Goal
Duncan Keith pumps up team to get back in the series
Ben Smith sends the Vancouver series to Game 7
And the first two awards of the evening go to rookies on the Blackhawks.
The first year player who was a member of the Boston College Golden Eagles last season made an impact on the enormous stage that is the NHL Playoffs.
With his backhand over Roberto Luongo, he gave the Blackhawks the opportunity to win the series back in Vancouver after being down 3 games to none. Though they were unable to capitalize on that chance, Smith has cemented his place in Blackhawks history with a goal that no one could have expected from #57.
John Scott was basically brought in to the Blackhawks organization to win this award.
He has done just that with his beatdown of the King's Kevin Westgarth. It was a bloody whopping that left many wondering why Westgarth would want to face off with the 6'8 Scott.
Blackhawks coaches are expecting more out of Scott next season, and do not simply want a enforcer who is a liability on defense. It would be nice if he was able to give more, but a few times this season he gave something for the Blackhawk fans to appreciate.
Back in August before the season was underway, I felt that Troy Brouwer was going to emerge as one of the Blackhawks' best offensive threats this season. With Andrew Ladd and Dustin Byfuglien gone, Brouwer had the chance to step up and become one of the top scorers on this Hawks team.
He was unable to get that done. Whether it was injuries or more inconsistencies, Brouwer never seemed comfortable on ice, and it showed on the stat line.
17 goals and 19 assists was not what the Blackhawks needed from a player that was constantly given the chance to prove himself on the top two lines. Also, he did not register a single point in the seven playoff games against Vancouver.
Brouwer will need to regroup this offseason and show that he can be the player that people saw glimpses of in the Cup Final against the Flyers.
The old saying, "You don't know what you've got 'til its gone," was never more true then for the Blackhawks when they had to wait for more than a month for Dave Bolland to return.
The feisty center has made a name for himself in the past few postseasons. With his play that threw the Sedin's off their game, and how he came back with a vengeance yet again in 2011. In the regular season he had an impressive +/- of +11 in 61 games.
In four games against Vancouver in the playoffs, he had more points than Jonathan Toews and Patrick Sharp who both played in all seven games. He was the primary catalyst for a team that brought the Canucks to the brink of elimination.
Being down 3-0 to the hated Vancouver Canucks
Needing a Minnesota win to get in the playoffs
Losing a playoff series to Vancouver
April 10th 2011 was a whirlwind day of emotions for Blackhawks fans everywhere.
The Hawks had every opportunity and scenario in their favor to reach the playoffs. The only thing that they could not do was lose in regulation at home against their arch-rival Red Wings.
The Wild won, and the rest is history, but for about five hours it could not get any more stressful or nerve-racking then being a Hawks supporter.
Coming back from 3-0 to tie the series
Patrick Sharp wins All-Star Game MVP
The Blackhawks raise the championship banner/White House visit
The greatest moment of the season very well could have been when the Blackhawks scored that goal in overtime to send them to a historic series win in Vancouver. But, it was not meant to be.
So, the top moment of the season occurred before a puck was dropped at the United Center this season. It was the Blackhawks raising a Stanley Cup banner for the first time in the stadium's history, and the first for the organization in 49 years.
The legends of the 1961 team came back for the occasion, and it was an electric atmosphere to say the least.
The White House visit was also very memorable as the team was on hand alongside Chicago-native President Obama. Former Blackhawk Brent Sopel was also there which was a pleasant surprise.
Ben Smith and Nick Leddy have made their way onto the list of well-known players for the Blackhawks. But, someone like Jeremy Morin could emerge onto the roster with more frequency next season.
Morin appeared in nine games last season, but was often moved back and forth to Rockford because of issues with the salary cap. He was able to notch three points with the Blackhawks, and seemed like he could become a player to look out for in time.
He is a gifted scorer and very well could earn his keep next season. There isn't any rush for Morin though, as he is only 20 years old.
The 35-year-old Marty Turco certainly seemed to be helpful to Corey Crawford all season, but he really was not really all that helpful for the Blackhawks overall.
The former All-Star goalie came to the Blackhawks thinking he was going to be the starter all season for the defending Stanley Cup champions. After some struggles he was relegated to back-up for a team that became Corey Crawford's.
He went 11-11-3, only played in one game in the last month and played no time in the post-season. Financially, it would have almost been worth it to simply keep Christobal Huet as back-up.
The grand-daddy award of them all, the MVP.
Cases can be made for a handful of players on the Blackhawks this past season for why they were the MVP.
Corey Crawford kept the Blackhawks in the playoff hunt with games where he simply put the team on his back.
Patrick Sharp was scoring when no one else on the team seemed to want to join him. His All-Star Game MVP honor gave the spotlight to one of the game's most underrated players.
Brent Seabrook was the best defenseman for the Blackhawks all season. His play was a welcome sight when the blue-line lacked what it took to be a playoff-caliber team.
But, I give the award to Jonathan Toews who yet again was the captain that the Blackhawks deeply needed. His 76 points led the team as well as his +/- of +25 which was the highest among offensive players on the team by a wide margin.
Though he was shut down for much of the playoffs against Vancouver, Toews got the goal that gave the Blackhawks one last chance in overtime of Game 7. One of the game's best captains continues to show that he will be a force to reckon with for years to come.