The NHL Awards and Draft were in the same week this year, making it easier for those coming from the east and north to Las Vegas for the Awards and Los Angeles for the Entry Draft. It was a bit of a crazy week for everyone, but definitely exciting.
This year’s show seemed a bit more polished than last year’s even if some of Jay Mohr’s jokes didn’t go over well with everyone. I heard a couple people complain that the NHL was trying to be too funny at the Awards, but I think we all need to remember that they’re trying to appeal to the masses and it’s hard to please everyone. Who knows. Maybe it’s possible that someone will flip by the NHL Network or Versus at the right time, see Jay Mohr, and watch because they think he’s funny. I suppose stranger things have happened, though many people who are huge hockey fans don’t watch the NHL Awards, so I’d say it’s pretty unlikely.
Most of the awards this year were about as predictable as last year. I think that until Datsyuk retires they should just print his name on the Frank J. Selke Trophy at the start of the season. He’s won it three years in a row now and doesn’t seem to be letting up any on the defensive aspect of his game. It was a bit surprising that this year he only won by 33 points and only received one more vote for 1st place than Ryan Kesler of Vancouver. Perhaps he’s getting close to being dethroned as the Selke winner.
Though I expected Henrik Sedin to win the Hart and he did, I think if you take the Hart trophy as they say it should be (“the player adjudged to be the most valuable to his team”) that Ovechkin should have won it. Since Henrik’s twin Daniel Sedin was only .02 points per game behind Henrik, I’m not sure Henrik was as important to his team as Alex Ovechkin was to his – especially when you take into consideration the fact that Roberto Luongo is the goalie behind the Sedin twins. Clearly, the 46 people who voted for Henrik Sedin for the Hart 1st place disagree with me, but it’s something to consider.
I had never attended the NHL Entry Draft (or any other league’s draft, for that matter), so I didn’t really know what to expect having just seen the draft on TV. It’s definitely different to watch the draft from the back of the floor of the arena where everything is happening and be able to duck out to interview those drafted right away. The excitement of the draft doesn’t seem to come across well enough on a TV even in HD.
Not too surprisingly, Versus disappointed me yet again. I’m glad I attended this year’s draft live, since otherwise I would have watched it in standard definition. The first round of the draft was shown in standard definition on Versus HD for some reason. Someone messed up the feeds, I guess, since the NHL Network re-aired the TSN feed (same thing Versus was showing) in HD on NHL Network HD. Thankfully, I thought to check this out and got to watch the parts of the draft I wanted to see in HD. I don’t think I’ll ever understand the way Versus makes their decisions. If they can get the HD feed, I don’t see why they would choose not to use it. I’m sure there was some complicated reason behind it, but the NHL Network aired rounds 2-7 live in HD from TSN, so Versus should have been able to do the same with the first round.
As usual, there were some surprises with players dropping farther than anyone predicted (like Fowler, Gormley, & Etem), but teams always have their reasons for who they choose to draft and most GMs are understandably pretty tight lipped on the matter.
I missed it when I watched the broadcast, but I did hear TSN correct their previous statement during the second day of the draft… My dad pointed out when I talked to him that TSN had said there were eleven US players selected in the first round of the draft, breaking the record previously set. I re-counted the US players at that point and still came up with ten (the same number the NHL had mentioned in their press release immediately handed to us after the round ended). I told him that they probably got confused, since one of the non-US born players did come from a US hockey amateur club. From TSN’s discussion the second day, that seemed to be the confusion. I was pretty shocked that TSN would get anything so black and white wrong, since they’ve been covering the draft forever, but I know that draft day is pretty nuts and I’m sure they just looked in the wrong column when they were tallying the American players.
As always, there is debate about what team did best in this year’s draft and (also as always) the truth of the matter is that there is no way to tell how well a team did until years down the line. Look at the steal the Kings got in Lucky Luc Robitaille, selected 171st overall in the 9th round. Though I wasn’t a hockey fan yet in 1984, I can’t imagine anyone on TSN or anywhere else predicting that the Kings did a great job with that pick.