Why Vincent Lecavalier would win comeback player of the year award, if it existed

Thumbnail image for lecavaliergoal.jpgMy knowledge of trophies in other sports isn’t cumulative, but I’d still be willing to wager that the Lady Byng is the least respected award in sports that hasn’t been made up by a snarky blog or something of that nature.

Obviously, having a trophy with the word “lady” on it doesn’t fly in the macho world of hockey, even if Byng was an important figure in hockey history. Then there’s the message of the trophy itself: it’s awarded to the most “gentlemanly” player in the sport. That’s a great concept in that it highlights a white sheep in a gang of black ones, but hockey players are expected to be crazy and courageous, not to hold the door for people.

Vincent Lecavalier’s expected bounce back year got The Globe and Mail’s Eric Duhatschek thinking about revamping the Lady Byng … and how Lecavalier might be the unofficial comeback player of the 2010-11 season.

With all the hardware the NHL dispenses come awards time, why wouldn’t they name a comeback player of the year? The Masterton comes closest, but here’s a vote for reworking the definition of the Lady Byng trophy so that it goes to the player who rebounds after a sub-par year. The Byng doesn’t get much respect as it is currently interested defined – gentlemanly conduct just doesn’t cut it among hockey players generally – and it would create an interesting new category, which this year would feature a ton of potential candidates this year: Ales Hemsky, Johan Franzen, David Booth, Marc Savard, Dave Bolland, Milan Lucic, Paul Martin to name just a few.

Then there is Lecavalier, who actually scored 70 points last season, but was a minus-16, a fairly accurate reflection of his even-strength struggles. It is in the goal-scoring department where the decline has been especially noticeable: 52 to 40 to 29 to 24 over the past four seasons.

For Lecavalier, who was part of the 2004 Stanley Cup championship team, there is more to get excited about this year than there has been in the recent past.

lecavalierwithnewteammates.jpgThe Masterton does, indeed, seem like the closest answer to the comeback player of the year although it seems to reward coming back from much more serious adversity (a family member’s death, a horrific injury) than normal.

There are two reasons why Lecavalier might have a good chance at a big improvement this season: 1) better teammates and 2) his shooting percentage was 8.1 percent, four percent lower than his career average. That might not sound like much, but if he converted on just a bit more than 10 percent of his shots last year (295 overall), he would have produced a 30 goal season instead of a 24-goal output.

So, if you’re struggling to find a good center later in a fantasy hockey draft, consider Lecavalier a strong “steal” candidate. He might not win a Lady Byng/Comeback Player of the Year Trophy, but he might help you win whatever award you hand out among your colleagues. And isn’t your personal glory what really matters?

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    Campbell’s perfect snipe sinks Wings in OT


    Brian Campbell doesn’t score as many points as he used to, but he came up with a huge goal against the Red Wings on Sunday afternoon.

    With the game tied, 1-1, in overtime, Campbell skated into the slot and beat Petr Mrazek with a perfect wrister to end the game.

    It was also a pretty nice passing play between Jussi Jokinen, Jonathan Huberdeau and Campbell.

    Dylan Larkin opened the scoring in the second period before Reilly Smith leveled the score with just over five minutes remaining.

    The Wings have blown a lead in three straight games.

    Detroit was up 2-0 and 3-2 in their last game, against Edmonton, before they finally closed the game out with an overtime goal by Niklas Kronwall.

    They weren’t so fortunate against the Bruins on Wednesday, as they lost 3-2 in OT after leading 2-1 with under two minutes remaining in regulation.

    This was the first meeting of the season between Detroit and Florida, but they’ll see each other three times between Feb. 4 and Mar. 19.

    With Jonathan Bernier sputtering, we’ll meet Garret Sparks

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    You can’t blame Mike Babcock for siding with the relatively unknown when the other option is Jonathan Bernier, a goalie who’s 0-8-1 so far in 2015-16.

    With that in mind, meet Garret Sparks, the Toronto Maple Leafs’ expected starter for Monday’s game against the Edmonton Oilers.

    Sparks was a seventh-round pick (190th overall) in 2011, a guy who was off to a great start in the AHL. That much wasn’t lost on Babcock.

    Let’s face it, though; this is as much about the Leafs’ other two goalies as it is about Sparks (whose name inspired a very obscure reference in this post’s headline).

    In Bernier’s case, there’s an “enough’s enough” feel:

    Meanwhile, James Reimer‘s not quite healthy enough to play yet, so the window of opportunity is open for Sparks … a little bit.

    Sparks will get a chance to make an impression, even if it’s just a small one.

    Video: Dylan Larkin adds to his rookie goals lead

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    So far, the 2015-16 crop of rookies is living up to the hype, if not exceeding it. Connor McDavid‘s unfortunate injury hasn’t even derailed this year’s crop.

    The Detroit Red Wings are watching their own blue chip blossom, as Dylan Larkin is making an instant impact.

    No. 71 scored his 10th goal of the season against the Florida Panthers on Sunday, fattening his rookie goals lead.

    He still needs five points to match rookie points leader Artemi Panarin, though.

    Latest report leaves Carey Price’s injury timeline fuzzy

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    There’s one thing we seem to know about Carey Price‘s injury situation: he first got hurt stepping on a puck on Oct. 29, according to Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman.

    Contrary to earlier reports about him missing about a month, it sounds like his window of recovery is still up in the air (which, to be fair, could mean that he’ll still miss about a month when it’s all said and done).

    ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun reports that Price underwent testing with Montreal’s team doctor on Saturday and is expected to go through more; we may not know more about his expected injury timeline until early this coming week.

    So, basically, Price’s situation is fuzzier than his mustache right now.

    Leg injuries can be tricky anyway, so we shouldn’t be too surprised that there are mixed signals regarding Price, and this may remain a fluid situation for some time.

    (But we’ll hopefully know more soon enough.)