I’m not exactly sure what people expect from award shows. If you’ve ever seen any, like so much as one in your life, you’re aware they’re not exactly a Louie CK stand-up hour of unadulterated hilarity, and it’s pretty unlikely your favourite band is going to show up and bang out your favourite song - they’re major events meant to appeal to the masses. With that in mind…I thought last night’s NHL Award Show from Las Vegas was just fine, and pretty entertaining. (Daniel Wagner gave his review here.)
I took notes along the way (how sad is that), so let’s mindlessly plow through every one with zero discretion.
For starters, here’s a list of who won the stuff that matters:
HART TROPHY (MVP): Evgeni Malkin, Pittsburgh Penguins
TED LINDSAY (MVP voted by players): Evgeni Malkin, Pittsburgh Penguins
VEZINA TROPHY (top goalie): Henrik Lundqvist, New York Rangers
NORRIS TROPHY (top defenseman): Erik Karlsson, Ottawa Senators
JACK ADAMS TROPHY (top coach): Ken Hitchcock, St. Louis Blues
CALDER TROPHY (top rookie): Gabriel Landeskog, Colorado Avalanche
SELKE TROPHY (top defensive forward): Patrice Bergeron, Boston Bruins
LADY BYNG TROPHY (gentlemanly play): Brian Campbell, Florida Panthers
GENERAL MANAGER OF THE YEAR: Doug Armstrong, St. Louis Blues
KING CLANCY TROPHY (community leadership): Daniel Alfredsson, Ottawa Senators
But you already knew all of that. Let’s talk about the show.
* In my younger days, and I say this with quite a sense of pride, people used to compare me to Chandler from Friends. And hey, when that show owned TV, could you *BE* compared to anyone cooler? (yes? Oh.) So anyway, I root for Matthew Perry, and actually, I thought he did just fine in front of an awful audience last night. He told a joke about the show being on a seven second delay because Jonathan Quick was there, the man who dropped multiple F-bombs in front of 18,000 fans while on the mic a few days earlier. Quick legitimately did not get the joke. Not Even a smile. Perry did look a little haggard though, I’ll admit that (aww, c’mon Timothy Burke, that’s just a cruel, hungover-ish screengrab of him to tweet).
* Re: the Kevin Smith bits – was he doing an intentionally over-acted one-man show in a jazz lounge? Wwww…hy? For me, worst part of the show. I know he’s a “real” hockey fan, but his favourite things about the game include a Patrick Kane goal in the skills competition, and an Artem Anisimov’s gun celebration? Now that’s hockey!
* The Tracy Morgan provided very few, if any genuine laughs. I was bummed, since his last foray into hockey was so great we quoted it on repeat in college.
“Ja-ro me Ro-e-nick!” and “I’m fast, I’m agile, and I’m acc-uriiit” are the best parts.
* I’d bet money “Edzo” cannot stand Pierre McGuire. I have no info on that, just going on their personalities, where they come from in the business, and how they talk on-air. Yet the networks have those two joined at the hip, like it or not.
* Pierre’s glasses. Someone tell him the round thing is over. I mean, for Christ’s sake, he’s on TV. Isn’t there a stylist saying, what if you tried….not that? He really does look like Dana Carvey in Master of Disguise.
* I’m going to really floor some people with this, but it has to be said: some hockey players have some pretty lady-friends. Kudos to the guys who brought their Mom or Dad or both though, which is ten times cooler.
* Evgeni Malkin is the absolute best. When he won the Ted Lindsay Award and read off his cheat sheet, I loved him even more. All you can do is try, and he did. And then to come up at the end of the night, and talk about how much his best friend Sergei Gonchar means to him, well, it was all the more endearing.
* I didn’t say a lot of nice things about Ken Hitchcock when he took over the Blues this season. I didn’t say a lot of nice things in the past when he had his teams playing the smootheriest of smoothery defense. But after some quotes about “learning to relate to today’s young players” when he got started, and last night’s Jack Adam’s acceptance speech….I’m on board. I’m sure I should’ve been all along, but he really came off in a great light.
* Okay, the whole “present three awards, have the players there, make them stand in the dark and turn on the lights once we say their names so they can wave” thing….was terribly awkward. Here are guys getting awards for amazing achievements and they were asked to stand on stage, hold the trophy (a kabillion pound awkward one in Shane Doan’s case), then just wave and leave. Way to honor the League’s finest!
* When he first got drafted, I wasn’t sure what to make of Gabriel Landeskog as a person. He’s obviously a great, tenacious player, but off-ice interviews left me unsure. Well, the Dad hug after he won the Calder, followed up by the nice, shaky speech (right up my alley), and the tribute to his grandfather earned him a new fan.
* Product placement: the EA Sports cover thing was an absolute drag this year (and it’s only going to get worse now that it’s a “thing”). I like to see who they put on it too, but it was a marathon to get there. I found the introduction to the unveiling pre-commercials – ”And the Big Moment is next!” – pretty weak, given that real moments were happening. And then to bring up the two finalists like it’s American goddamn Idol was even worse. “Pekka Rinne, come up here and publicly lose something that doesn’t matter real quick, will ya!” After his great year, that was his only time on stage.
* Re: the Brendan Shanahan segments. The real videos – that we’re all very glad to have – are very parody-able, as we’ve shown ourselves here on Backhand Shelf this season. I think the bits were pretty good – Will Arnett is great. Every time a new one came on I had the opposite reaction to when the Kevin Smith bits popped up. They weren’t homeruns, but I could watch ten more attempts and be sure I’d at least smile enough to make it worth my while.
* PJ Stock and his co-presenter said “PundiNts” – yes, with an extra “n” in there, “pundints” instead of “pundits” so many times it was flat out embarrassing. You might as well say “accrost,” as one of my college captains used to say when we stretched. That stuff drives me bananas. “Let’s ask that pundint if we should keep stretching this way, or if it’s time to bring the other leg accrost.”
* Gary Bettman had a three second – LITERALLY, three second – cameo in a video, and was beaming at how well it went. What a generally happy guy, hey?.
* As an Islander fan and someone who, yes, watched a few seasons of Entourage, I’m pro-Kevin Connelly. He’s one of the few celebrities at the NHL Awards that actually knows what’s going on around the League at all times. Him sneaking Islanders gear into a few Entourage episodes was always a little bonus for those of us on the same faulty-wheeled, sparsely-filled bandwagon.
* Daniel Alfredsson wins the King Clancy for being a great guy off the ice, Mike Fisher gets an award for giving his time and money to charity, Shane Doan deservedly gets the Messier Leadership Award, and they get the “stand in the spotlight and wave” treatment too. Boo. Also, Alfie had a vicious duster in the award video. (Oh by the way, have you seen our awesome video “Alfie Rises?” You should click that.)
* Before Brian Campbell won the Lady Bing Award, they panned to him and I legitimately thought he was married to Angela from The Office. I mean, he’s pretty clearly sitting beside her (bottom right), yes?
But after he accepted the award, NBC cut to his fianceé, whom he’s apparently marrying this week. And um, she’s quite pretty, so here’s another screenshot:
But that’s not really the important point, go back to the first pic – is Matt Moulson there with Dale Tallon. Are they friends? ARE THE ISLANDERS LOSING MOULSON TO THE PANTHERS?
Okay, no, but one more point on the Lady Byng thing: Cool Fact – Brian Campbell is the first defenseman to win the Lady Byng since 1954. Uncool Fact: it was the first thing Brian Campbell pointed out in his acceptance speech.
* SHOW HIGHLIGHT: Classy Henrik Lundqvist is so honoured, so excited to win the Vezina he let’s a little eff-bomb go, in happy sigh form, and it was beautiful. Half-embarrassed, the next thing he does is go to thank his Mom and Dad. It was cool because it was one of the more real moments of the night, unrehearsed and sincere. Goalies and their language, geez Louise.
The show ended with Malkin’s nice comments on his buddy Gonchar, and it was a good way to close out. For me, that’s a couple of hours of TV I don’t mind watching. Those of you who watched (and tweeted about, guh) the three hour red carpet show beforehand, well…you have issues beyone repair.