Tonight the NHL has it's annual awards show in Las Vegas and even with the promise of witty and entertaining commentary from host Jay Mohr (hitting you over the head with sarcasm alert), this event is quickly becoming a rival with the All-Star game for irrelevancy. Which is why I, along with Vince Shlomi's money (okay, it was a contra agreement - anyone need a Slap Chop?) am extremely proud to reveal the 2010 Slappy Winners:
The ShamWow Award
Finalists: Lee Stempniak, Ville Leino, Peter Mueller
This one goes to Ville Leino, who was a 'sham' in Detroit but transformed into a 'wow' in Philadelphia. The 26 year-old Finn went from 7 points in 42 regular season games with the Red Wings to 21 points in 19 playoff games with the Flyers, and at times, was the best player in the Stanley Cup finals. Leino's transformation from fringe player to the first line would be like Heidi Montag snagging the lead role in Scorsese's next film. Alright, a better comparison would probably be Judd Apatow's next film, but you get the idea.
The Yoko Ono Award
Finalists: Brian Campbell, Vincent Lecavalier, Shawn Horcoff
This award goes to Brian Campbell, who's onerous contract (6 years and $43 million remaining) is threatening to break-up the Blackhawks. The Hawks salary cap problems have been widely reported and even burying Cristobal Huet's $5.3 million contract in the minors next year won't solve them. Chicago will be forced to trade or walk away from a number of players who were integral to their Stanley Cup championship (Ladd, Byfuglien, Versteeg, Sharp, Hjalmarsson) mainly because Campbell is ridiculously overpaid and therefore, unmovable. Although, if I were Stan Bowman, I would at the very least make some exploratory calls to the finalists for the next award.
The Isiah Thomas Award
Finalists: Brian Burke, Steve Tambellini, Bryan Murray
This goes to the lousiest GM from the past year. No need to build suspense here: C'mon down Brian Burke! Instead of simply signing Phil Kessel to an offer sheet last summer, Burke chose to make a trade with the Bruins that actually cost the Leafs an extra first rounder next year rather than a third rounder this year. But hey, at least Burke can continue to crow that "he will never use an offer sheet", nevermind the disastrous implications for his team. He extended Mikhail Grabovski and refused to fire a coach who may have very well been trying to get into the record books as the worst penalty killing team of all-time. On top of that, Burke acquired a past-his-prime goaltender who will earn $7 million this year at a time when cheap, quality goaltending is in abundance.
Press-Box Hot Award
Finalists: Olli Jokinen, Tomas Plekanec, Matthew Lombardi
Press-box hot, as defined by the great ESPN.com writer Bill Simmons: "there are so few females that cover sports that the ones who do become disproportionately hot to everyone else sitting in the press-box". Well, this same line of thinking can easily be applied to an underwhelming unrestricted free-agent class. Because there are so few quality unrestricted free agents this offseason, a guy like Tomas Plekanec, who had a career high 70 points last season in his contract year (gigantic red flag) somehow ends up with a 6 year $30 million contract. As my friend Frosty emailed me today: "Montreal just got Horcoffed."
My Agent Deserves a Raise Award
Finalists: Roberto Luongo, Miikka Kyprusoff, Tim Thomas, Cam Ward, Tomas Vokoun, J.S. Giguere, Cristobal Huet, Niklas Backstom, Henrik Lundqvist
All of the nominated players will make at least $5 million next year, and if we've learned anything the past few years, it's that the goalie position is the easiest place to save dollars in a salary cap system. In other words, we have a 9-way tie! It will be very interesting to see what unrestricted free-agent Evgeni Nabokov signs for this summer, because the goaltending landscape has changed drastically in recent years. Nabokov might get squeezed all the way back to the KHL if he doesn't want to take a hefty paycut from the $6 million he earned this past year.
Finalists: Mike Fisher, Dion Phaneuf, Mike Comrie
This is the big one, the Slappy version of MVP. This was the closest race of all the awards and for once, there truly are no losers. The Mike Comrie/Hilary Duff engagement photos made Comrie the favourite, but the winner is Mike Fisher who somehow convinced the unbearably cute Carrie Underwood to look past his mediocre on-ice stats and goofy friends (Spezza!) and say yes to his engagement proposal.