Let’s not beat around the bush. Not many Rangers are deserving of awards. The team’s performance was putrid. But since I can’t write about any Ranger playoff games, let’s take a crack at some individual awards anyway. View it like you’re at your nephew’s elementary school sports award show — even kids who blow can get an award.
The layup easy one first. The Rangers’ Vezina goes to The King. What has not been said about this guy so far? Played in 73 of 82 games. Carried the team for long stretches. Including a Herculean (well, almost) performance in the finale. Let in a few softies and had a few abysmal games, but he was under incredible pressure every night and stressed for the past 6 months. Lundqvist was so good and busy this year I don’t even have an honorable mention.
The Lady Bing goes to…Sean Avery. Just kidding (obviously). Let’s give it to Christensen. Was going to go with Prospal, but Christensen didn’t take those needless quasi-boarding calls late in the season. And he gives the best interviews of anyone in sports (in terms of thoughtful honest answers; Adonal Foyle actually is close, but no one really remembers him, and he’s a basketball player anyway). Plus he added some serious skill late in the season while Vinny worked on his tan instead.
Rocket Richard. Obviously Gaboirk. 42 goals. 5th in the NHL. More than double the second leading goal scorer on the team. Amazing and sad simultaneously.
Calder. Staal. For sure. A Staalwart (haha) on defense. Perhaps not a true lockdown #1 yet, but certainly the closest thing the blueshirts have. Had some bad games, but not many. Always was matched up with teams’ top forwards. Plus, played much of the season with an underperforming Rozsival as his partner before Rozi picked it up. Staal was so good that even when he gift-wrapped the goal to Richards in the next to last game of the season my reaction was just “Huh? OK, that was weird. Anyway.” Couldn’t be pissed at the guy.
Which brings us to the comeback player of the year. Got to be Rozsival. Brutal, absolutely brutal last season. Worse to start this one. But then something clicked and he started to play respectibly. Must be hard to be booed every night and still want to improve. Got to hand it to the guy. Still wish he could learn to shoot while moving or one-time it. Baby steps.
Rookie of the year. Also an obvious choice. Del Zotto. Granted he was merely average at best the last 2/3 of the season, but his first 1/3 was enough to give us hope as fans, exciting us to the possibility of a new Leetch. He needs to tone down the frequency of the home runs passes, but when they click they are a thing of beauty. DZ also wins the awards for most disgusting freakish injury and best-looking-to-women-but-guys-can’t-see-it player. Honorable mention to Anisimov, who was the only forward to play all 82 games.
Yeoman of the Year. 100% Callahan. Top 5 in the league in hits despite his small stature. Played hurt many times. Dedicated and pure. Gave his all no matter what. A star on the team for his heart. Was second on the team in goals too until he missed all that time at the end of the season. Still finished in the top 5 five. And he’s a U.S. Olympian and the Steven McDonald Extra Effort Award Winner. If everyone on the team had his heart and drive we’d be the 5 seed.
Executive of the Year. Just kidding. We’re tabling this one for the chance that Dolan fires Sather. Then I mightgive it to Dolan.
Hart. Might as well flip a coin between Lundqvist and Gaborik. I’m going with Lundqvist cause he showed up for more games than Gaborik. Gabby was too streaky, and if you remove the first 1/3 of the season, just average. Lundqvist was dominant at times. Without him we lose 3/4 of our games. Easy. He literally saved and won games for us. He even exudes that anger you like to see when a player is genuinely pissed that his team lost. (Sometimes too much — stay away from him after a 2-1 OT loss — but you know he wants to do nothing but win.) The backbone of the Rangers.
A tough year Rangers fans. But one thing we have is undying unjustifiable blind faith in the team. So I’m excited about next season!!!
Tags: Adonal Foyle Artem Anisimov Brian Leetch Calder Erik Christensen Glen Sather Hart Trophy Henrik Lundqvist John Tortorella Lady Bing Marc Staal Marian Gaborik Michael Del Zotto Michal Rozsival New York Rangers Rocket Richard Ryan Callahan Sean Avery Vezina