Hey, it’s another year of the NHL Awards in Las Vegas! This year, the star-studded celebrity lineup includes Mad Men star Jon Hamm and, uh, Donny Osmond! And Dierks Bentley! And I’ve seen only the first two of those people! And only one of them more recently!
Here’s a minute-by-minute recap of the highlights and sighlights of the televised festivities, hosted for the second straight season by the ironically surnamed comedian Jay Mohr:
7:06 p.m. – Mohr’s opening monologue takes shots at, among others, the Florida Panthers, New York Islanders, Edmonton Oilers and Alex Burrows. The famously touchy gathering of NHL types greets the jokes with the kind of semi-bemusement you see adults give to slower adults.
To cap it off, Mohr launches into a passionate defense of NHL commissioner Gary Bettman and chides the Vancouver crowd that booed him mercilessly during the Stanley Cup presentation ceremony. This is why Mohr is going to be hosting the awards for a long, long time.
7:14 – Time for the first award of the night: the Norris Trophy as the league’s best defenseman. Detroit’s Nicklas Lidstrom – the player who was No. 1 on my ballot for the Norris – winds up winning the seventh of his astonishing career.
Unfortunately, actress/Norris presenter Cobie Smulders calls him “Lindstrom” as does Mohr after Lidstrom makes a typically classy acceptance speech. I ask you, hockey gods, WHAT DOES THIS MAN HAVE TO DO TO ENSURE CORRECT PRONUNCIATION OF WHAT APPEARS TO BE AN EASILY PRONOUNCEABLE SURNAME?!
7:15 – Receive no answer from hockey gods.
7:18 – Daniel Sedin “wins” the Art Ross Trophy, even though he actually won it on the final day of the regular season by finishing with more points than any other NHLer. Anticlimactic? You betcha.
7:19 – Mark Messier presents Zdeno Chara with the Mark Messier Leadership Award. Standing beside the hulking Chara, Messier looks kind of like the Six Flags dancing fool. Please don’t tell Mess I said this.
7:20 – Heading to commercial, announcer calls celebrity presenter Criss Angel “the magician of the century.” That’s the beauty of an 11 percent-completed century: standards are still being established.
7:24 – It’s our first musical act of the night: Dierks Bentley! I’m not going to rip him because he’s a country star of whom I’d never heard before tonight. I am going to say that Bruce Springsteen’s unparalleled stage energy is certainly not going to be paralleled by Mr. Bentley.
7:27 – Criss Angel hits the stage – with no magic trick! what a rip! – to present the Selke Trophy for best defensive forward. As he reads the teleprompter, a member of the stage crew wanders through the background. Ta-DAH!
7:30 – Vancouver’s Ryan Kesler wins the Selke. Deservedly so.
7:33 – The Ryan Getzlaf/Bobby Ryan viral video that was such a hit at last year’s NHL awards is back for a sequel. Mostly the same kind of stuff, but with an even more maniacal cameo from former Duck Scott Niedermayer. Never did I think I’d say I was disturbed watching a Niedermayer brother eat a banana, but I was, so I am.
7:36 – Osmond presents the Jack Adams Award for top coach to Pittsburgh’s Dan Bylsma. I believe nominee Barry Trotz of Nashville should’ve received it, but I can see a good case being made for the Penguins bench boss as well. In fact, you could say the same for every award this season.
7:43 – The CBC’s George Stroumboulopoulos and NHL legend Jeremy Roenick get into a faux-war-of-words before presenting the Calder Trophy for the league’s top rookie to Carolina’s Jeff Skinner.
Skinner already is known as the NHL’s Justin Bieber, but he actually looks like a Jonas Brother. Not sure who the Jonas Bros. are? Not to worry – they’ll be hosting the 2036 NHL Awards.
7:48 – Time for the traditional in-show infomercial for a video game. Ah, the memories of past infomercials...
7:51 – Roberto Luongo and Corey Schneider take the stage to accept the William Jennings Trophy for team goalies with the lowest goals-against average. And yes, Luongo looks about as comfortable as a sexual abstinence advocate getting a lap dance from Steven Tyler.
7:56 – Mike Gillis wins the GM of the year award. There are traces of a smile on his face, but nothing even a high-speed camera is fast enough to capture.
8:00 – Before presenting the award with his name on it (for being the most outstanding NHLer as voted on by the players) to Daniel Sedin, hockey immortal Ted Lindsay gets more honest laughs from one line than Mohr has all night. Love that man.
8:10 – Speaking of Love That Guy: Ian Laperriere wins the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy for dedication to the game. As someone who’s gotten to know Laperriere a little bit over the past year, I got all choked up watching him try and maintain his composure. Here’s hoping he gets one more shot and overcomes his post-concussion symptoms that have kept him out of the game for a year.
8:12 – Bettman delivers a heartfelt remembrance of Calgary Flames owner Harley Hotchkiss. That was nice, but there was no mention during the show of Derek Boogaard, Pat Burns, or anyone else the hockey world has lost in the past year. That was very not nice.
8:27 – Two alleged “stars” of a “reality” “show” called Real Housewives of Beverley Hills present the Lady Byng Trophy to Tampa’s Martin St-Louis (whom the two women called “Martin Saint Lewis”). The classy St-Louis took it in stride, but this should not be allowed to happen again. St-Louis has worked harder in one day than a reality show star does in a lifetime. Disgraceful.
8:39 – Bettman presents the NHL Foundation Player Award to another one of hockey’s true good guys, Kings right winger Dustin Brown. I love Brown’s game, but I love his off-ice charitable work even more.
8:42 – Something called the Far East Movement plays a song. Don’t ask.
8:46 – It’s genuine star time – and genuine swoon time – when Mad Men mainstay Jon Hamm presents the Vezina Award to Tim Thomas. It should be noted that Hamm must be paid whatever he wants to host the next NHL awards show; he has more charisma in one of his dashing cheekbones than Mohr ever has demonstrated.
Thomas, meanwhile, is humble in accepting the award. Another great ending for a very good person.
8:57 – Corey Perry wins the Hart Trophy as the NHL’s most valuable player. I voted for Daniel Sedin, but I can live with Perry. Still think the league has to look at redefining the award to make it the most outstanding player award. If that were the case this year, I think Sedin would have won it.
Adam Proteau, co-author of the book The Top 60 Since 1967, is writer and columnist for The Hockey News and a regular contributor to THN.com. Power Rankings appear Mondays, his blog appears Thursdays and his Ask Adam feature appears Fridays.
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