Last Wednesday I had the opportunity to attend the NHL awards at the Palms Resort in Las Vegas, Nevada. Never having gone to one before I certainly didn’t know what to expect when it came to showtime. Prior to the actual show fans were invited to gather around the red carpet where players, their families, and top dogs of the NHL would walk en route to the Pearl Concert Theater.
Many of the nominees and regular season winners would stop 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 them and later replayed to viewers to make it seem live.
Once inside the hotel guests would make their way to their seats and be 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 taking 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 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(whose acceptance speech can be found below) and Alex Ovechkin’s two part speech showed the more colorful side of the players.
Can we one day see a show hosted by Ovie himself? That might be a tough sell but I grantee it would make for good television. Even Jay Mohr was funny despite hating hockey. On the award front, Datsyuk would win 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 would refer to his blackberry to read off his thank you’s which was definitely a sign of the times.
As for Ovechkin he would win 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 might have deserved it slightly more in my opinion.
Also losing out on an award was Ilya Bryzgalov who came in second to Ryan Miller for the Vezina 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 unlike Miller whose stats plummeted after the Olympic break. Being a Devils fan I would have been more upset if Brodeur would have 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 and 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 past and present joined party goes, 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. You can find more of the pictures I took here and enjoy Pavel Datsyuk’s speech below