The NHL Awards ceremony is back, scheduled to be hosted by Jay Mohr in Las Vegas, June 23rd.
While the Buffalo Sabres had to sit and watch the Stanley Cup being won, for another painstaking off season – there is some hardware in store for Buffalo Sabres players at the annual end of season gala.
Buffalo Sabres goaltender Ryan Miller is scheduled to appear, as he was named a finalist for the Mark Messier Leadership Award, and the Vezina trophy for the leagues top goaltender. While Miller should run away with the voting on this award – he does have some decent company. Martin Brodeur, a likely first ballot hall of fame entry, has won the award four times. Joining Miller as a first time finalist for the award is Ilya Bryzgalov of the Pheonix Coyotes.
There is definitely some reason to believe that Martin Brodeur could win this award, but thankfully with the GMs voting its not always a popularity contest. Brodeur is an exceptionally goaltender, but New Jersey did not get to the Stanley Cup finals because of him.
Ilya Bryzgalov is in the same boat, not knowing what the situation was with his team, he still went out night after night and performed well enough for the Coyotes to win. Too bad they couldn’t beat Detroit in the first round. Again, with Ilya Bryzgalov, I am not sure the success in the desert was attributed just to him.
The Buffalo Sabres would not have made the playoffs if it was not for the talent of their starting goaltender. Hell with the right defense in front of him he probably could have won the Stanley Cup this year the way he was playing. The man was just plain Zen focus this year when it came to playing the game of hockey. With the number of games he started for the Buffalo Sabres this year, along with the Olympics and playoffs, Miller has proven that he can carry the load of a team on his back.
Ryan Miller will not be making the trip to Las Vegas alone however, as Tyler Myers will be going in the hopes of capturing Rookie of the Year honors in the Calder Trophy race. This is an interesting one, because you have a goalie (Jimmy Howard, Detroit), a defensemen, and a forward, (Matt Duchene, Colorado). All three positions offer a vastly different style of play, difficult to compare. There is no clear cut answer here at Calder, because none of the three were the sole reason there team found success this year. Solid role players and supporting casts allowed for each rookie to have a stellar start to their NHL careers.
It should be an interesting night, one that I know I will be watching – its always a special night watching some of the NHL greatest gather to celebrate a game we all find so passionate.