The Vegas Golden Knights did not win the Stanley Cup in their inaugural season.
However, at the 2018 National Hockey League Awards Thursday night at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in their hometown, the team that did make the Stanley Cup Final capped off its incredible season by winning four awards.
Head Coach Gerard Gallant was awarded the Jack Adams Trophy as the Coach of the year. General Manager George McPhee was named General Manager of the Year. Star forward Williams Karlsson was named the Lady Byng Memorial Trophy winner as the most gentlemanly player during the season.
Derek Engelland was awarded the Mark Messier Leadership Award.
The big prize of the evening was the Hart Trophy the league’s Most Valuable Player. That went to Taylor Hall of the New Jersey Devils. Hall was the first overall pick in the 2010 Entry Draft and spent six seasons with the Edmonton Oilers. After being traded in the 2016 off-season, Hall led New Jersey back to the Stanley Cup Playoffs as he scored 39 goals and 54 assists for a career-best 93 points. He barely beat Colorado’s Nathan MacKinnon for the award.
In addition, Hall was named to the first-team all star team, along with MacKinnon, Nashville’s Pekka Rinne who won the Vezina Trophy as the top goaltender, Connor McDavid of Edmonton ho won the Art Ross Trophy as the league’s top scorer as well as the Ted Lindsay Award as the top player in the league voted by his peers. Tampa Bay’s Victory Hedman the winner of the Norris Trophy as top defenseman. Rounding out the first team was Hedman’s teammate with the Lightning Nikita Kucherov and Drew Doughty of Los Angeles.
MacKinnon led the second team, along with Winnipeg teammates Connor Helleybuck and Blake wheeler. Columbus’ Seth Jones, P.K. Subban of Nashville and Philadelphia’s Claude Giroux.
The celebration was tempered as there was no master of ceremonies, no monologue or bad jokes. The theme of these awards were remembering the three major events that shook not only hockey but the world.
The first was the shooting in Las Vegas that killed 58 people and was the galvanizing factor between the city and the team which helped the Golden Knights to their phenomenal season. At their home opener, they remember the 58 that passed away that frightful night. A banner was raised to the rafters of T-Mobile Arena. They honored the first responders and as Engelland said to the sellout crowed “We are Vegas Strong” as they were all season long
The second the league honored the hockey team from Marjory Stoneham Douglas High School in Parland, Florida. The school in Broward County won the Florida State High School hockey championship just days after the shooting that killed 14 students.
The third and final was at the end of the event when the surviving members of the Humboldt Broncos were recognized. All but three of the survivors from the Saskatchewan Junior team that survived the tragic bus crash in April that saw 18 of their teammates along with their head coach Darcy Haugen and the support staff lose their lives.
Haugen was given the Willie O’ Ree Award posthumously as the person who most signified the love and passion for the game of hockey.
The rest of the award winners were: Alexander Ovechkin of the Stanley Cup Champion Washington Capitals with the Maurice Richard award winner as the top goal scorer during the season.
Mat Barzal of the New York Islanders won the Calder Trophy as the league’s top rookie and led the all-rookie team along with Brock Boeser of Vancouver, Will Butcher of New Jersey, Charlie McAvoy of Boston, Clayton Keller of Arizona and Jussi Saros of Nashville.
Jonathan Quick of Los Angeles named the Jennings trophy with the lowest goal against average while his teammate with the Kings, Anze Kopitar, won the Selke trophy as the top defensive forward.
Nee Jersey Devils defenseman Brian Boyle who beat a bout with Cancer to return to the ice and was a solid defenseman during the season won the Masterton Trophy. Finally, Henrik and Daniel Sedin who completed their careers with the Vancouver Canucks was awarded the King Clancy Memorial Trophy
The awards close the book on the 2017-18 season. It was a season to rejoice but also a season to remember both in victory and in sorrow.
The new season begins Friday June 22nd in Dallas with the NHL Entry Draft.