The nominees for all the awards to be handed out in Las Vegas on June 22 have all been announced, with the final one for General Manager of the Year coming out at the conclusion of the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
There are plenty of awards for players: the Hart, the Messier Leadership Award, the Lady Byng, the Foundation Award, the Calder, the Masterson, the Norris, the Selke, and the Vezina. Not to mention the Art Ross and the William Jennings trophies for top goal scorer and top goaltenders, respectively. Eleven trophies in all.
Then there are two awards for the front office personnel who, arguably, have just as much to do with their team’s success as the players. The Jack Adams trophy is awarded to the coach who “contributed the most to his team’s success.” The other is simply the GM of the Year award which is voted on by all 30 General Managers, a panel of NHL Executives, and media members.
Neither of those definitions say that the award is specifically for the regular season like the other awards. However, these were both voted on before the Conference Finals even start. Ask any of the finalists for these two awards if they would rather finish first in the regular season and get a banner, or finish eighth in the season and have their name on the Stanley Cup.
That choice is pretty clear and that is why the Playoffs should be included in the voting process.
The finalists for the GM of the year are Jim Rutherford of the Pittsburgh Penguins, Brian MacLellan of the Washington Capitals, and JIm Nill of the Dallas Stars. Granted, during the regular season all these men did a fantastic job of putting together teams to win their conferences and many, many games. But there is only one man left in the playoffs now.
What about Steve Yzerman of the Tampa Bay Lightning, who have made it to the Eastern Conference Final without his two top players in Ben Bishop and Steven Stamkos? He built a depth team that could survive the playoff storm.
The award for coach of the year, the Jack Adams, will be either Barry Trotz of the Washington Capitals, Gerard Gallant of the Florida Panthers, or Lindy Ruff of the Dallas Stars. Again, all amazing accomplishments in the regular season but they are all playing golf now while the other coaches are still rolling their lines, and watching game video.
Also, there is another award given to players just for the playoffs, the Conn Smythe trophy. This is given to the player “judged most valuable to his team during the NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs.”
Perhaps there should be an award for, at least Coach of the Playoffs, and maybe General Manager of Playoffs too. Certainly a case could be made for the coach who most contributes to their team’s success in the playoffs. As well, a General Manager who puts together the best team to make it all the way to hockey’s Holy Grail should deserve more recognition to include the playoffs.
At the very least they could push the voting process back another round to see which coaches and GM’s make it to the Stanley Cup Finals.