By Allan Muir
When was the last time you heard anyone gripe about someone getting snubbed for the Lady Byng Trophy?
Right. It never happens. Well, until today.
Good lord, forget about winning the thing, which is awarded "to the player adjudged to have exhibited the best type of sportsmanship and gentlemanly conduct combined with a high standard of playing ability." How does the Professional Hockey Writers Association not count up enough votes for San Jose's Logan Couture to get him a spot among the three finalists? Wait ... you don't suppose it's that East Coast bias thing again, do you?
OK, so Couture and his 37 points, four penalty minutes and fearless play didn't make the cut. Fine. Instead, Chicago's Patrick Kane, New York's Matt Moulson and Tampa Bay's Martin St. Louis were adjudged to be the players who scored the most points and retaliated least often to the abuse they take least often.
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Kane, whose season went well enough to split the MVP vote with Jonathan Toews in Chicago, ranked fifth in the NHL in both goals (23) and points (55), while accumulating just eight penalty minutes which, as the NHL noted, was the fewest among the top 20 point-producers.
Moulson went 15-29-44 for the Islanders, while racking up just four penalty minutes. He's a finalist for the second straight year.
On the way to his second career Art Ross Trophy, St. Louis averaged 1.25 points per game, becoming just the third player to produce at that rate at age 37 or older. The other two? Mario Lemieux and Gordie Howe. That's decent company. St. Louis ranked second among NHL forwards in total time on ice (1,055:12), but picked up just 14 penalty minutes.
Wait ... "just" 14 penalty minutes? Pro-rated, that would be the most time the dastardly St. Louis has spent in the box since 2006-07.
So, who skates home with this tainted chalice? I'll take Kane, who'll earn this as his consolation prize for failing short in the Hart voting.
This leaves just two more sets of award finalist to be announced. The Jack Adams nominees will be revealed Friday, the Mark Messier NHL Leadership Award candidates on Monday.