By Allan Muir
Marc Bergevin of the Montreal Canadiens, Dean Lombardi of the Los Angeles Kings and Bob Murray of the Anaheim Ducks were named on Friday as the three finalists for the 2013-14 NHL General Manager of the Year Award.
Bergevin and Murray are finalists for the second consecutive season, while Lombardi is a first timer.
Voting for this award was conducted among the league's 30 general managers along with a panel of NHL executives, print and broadcast media at the conclusion of the second round of the playoffs. The winner will be announced on June 24 at the NHL Awards show.
Here's what the league had to say about each of the finalists:
Marc Bergevin, Montreal Canadiens
Bergevin guided the Canadiens (46-28-8, 100 points) to their second 100-point season since 1992-93 as the team reached the playoffs for the second time in as many years as his term as general manager. He bolstered Montreal's offense with the summer signing of Daniel Briere and added grit with the offseason acquisitions of Douglas Murray and George Parros. Bergevin then shored up the roster with midseason trades for Thomas Vanek, Mike Weaver and Dale Weise, all of whom played critical roles in the Canadiens advancing to the Eastern Conference Final for the second time in the past five seasons.
Dean Lombardi, Los Angeles Kings
Under the direction of Lombardi, the Kings (46-28-8, 100 points) earned their fifth consecutive playoff berth, recorded their fourth 100-point season in franchise history, and made their third straight appearance in the Western Conference Final. He solidified the team’s blueline by re-signing defensemen Alec Martinez, Jake Muzzin and Slava Voynov, and did the same up front by bringing back Dustin Brown, Kyle Clifford, Trevor Lewis and Jordan Nolan. Lombardi then kick-started the club’s offense with the addition of Marian Gaborik at the trade deadline. After being blanked six times in 63 games prior to Gaborik's arrival, the Kings were not shut out in the final 19 contests of the regular season with him in the lineup.
Bob Murray, Anaheim Ducks
Murray paved the way for the finest season in Ducks history, leading the team to its second straight Pacific Division title, the top record in the Western Conference for the first time in club history, and franchise records for wins (54), points (116), points percentage (.707), home wins (29) and road wins (25). He set the team up for success by re-signing Matt Beleskey, Saku Koivu, Ben Lovejoy and Kyle Palmieri as well as enticing Teemu Selanne to return for one final season. Murray also traded for Mathieu Perreault during the preseason, added depth players in Mark Fistric, Tim Jackman, Stephane Robidas and Jakob Silfverberg, and oversaw the development of young goaltenders Frederik Andersen and John Gibson.
It's sort of pointless to get bent out of shape over an awards snub. There are going to be well-qualified candidates who don't make the cut in every category, and the diverse body that selects this winner, more than any other, is ideally qualified to honor a worthy recipient.
But come on. I had to check the press release three times to make sure it didn't cut off before Jim Nill's name was mentioned. Remember Jim Nill,? The guy who made not just the biggest trade of the season, but the one that is destined to have the greatest long-term impact on his franchise, when he sent Loui Eriksson, Reilly Smith, Matt Fraser and Joe Morrow to Boston in exchange for Tyler Seguin, who didn't simply blossom into a top-five scorer in the NHL. He grew up under Nill's supervision. Nill also brought in a new director of scouting in Joe McDonnell and a near Jack Adams candidate in coach Lindy Ruff. He guided a universally praised draft crop headlined by Valeri Nichushkin and Jason Dickinson in the first round and hot goaltending prospect Philippe Desrosiers in the second. And he oversaw a refocusing of the franchise that led to Dallas's first playoff birth in six seasons. No knock on the finalists, but none reshaped his franchise the way Nill's bold vision did.
More NHL awards picks: Adams | Hart | Calder | Selke | Vezina | Norris | Lady Byng | Masterton | Messier