It’s not always the most beloved award, but for Tampa Bay’s Martin St. Louis it’s the one he’s taking home once again. St. Louis won the Lady Byng tonight for the second year in a row and this time he took out a savvy veteran and a newcomer to the discussion to do it, not to mention fellow All-Stars.
St. Louis beat out Nicklas Lidstrom and Loui Eriksson for the league’s most noble award. In a league where lawlessness and head shots sometimes dominate the discussion, St. Louis is the player holding up the banner that hockey can be both graceful and have manners to it. That’s not to say that both Eriksson and Lidstrom are more of the ruffian types, just that St. Louis has yet again been the best embodiment of what it is to carry yourself with dignity and honor on the ice. Perhaps St. Louis learned some of those skills while at the University of Vermont while teamed up with Tim Thomas in the 1990s.
St. Louis was the runaway selection by the voters taking home 70 first place votes and earning 994 points. Lidstrom was second with 22 first place votes and 464 points. Eriksson was third with nine first place votes and 347 points. Fans can sometimes look upon this award as something less-than cool but in such a violent game it’s worth the time and effort to appreciate those that best set the example for how the game can be beautifully played.
Loui Eriksson, Nicklas Lidstrom, and Martin St. Louis named Lady Byng finalists – Who wins?
All right get your lame jokes out of the way now. Today the NHL announced the finalists for the Lady Byng Trophy for the player to the “player adjudged to have exhibited the best type of sportsmanship and gentlemanly conduct combined with a high standard of playing ability.” Often derided for being the trophy that goes to the guy who’s the softest player in the league, I’d dare you to say that to any of the three guys who will be vying for the award this year.
Detroit’s Nicklas Lidstrom, Tampa Bay’s Martin St. Louis, and Dallas’ Loui Eriksson are this year’s finalist for the award. We’d grown accustomed to seeing Pavel Datsyuk be the lead nominee for the award (he’s won it four times) but after his famous fight with Anaheim’s Corey Perry earlier in the season, that all but eliminated him from the competition this year.
Between these three players, the competition is interesting. Lidstrom has never been a finalist for the award in the past and a defenseman has only ever won the award four times. Incidentally it was only two players that pulled that feat and they were Detroit Red Wings when they did it. Bill Quackenbush in 1949 and Red Kelly did so three times in in 1951, 1953, and 1954. Considering it hasn’t been won by a defenseman since ’54 and the 40 year-old Lidstrom has long been one of the most cordial players on and off the ice, it feels like it’ll be a career achievement sort of award for Lidstrom this year.
Of course Martin St. Louis won it last year and having that sort of credibility to your name often makes the vote turn out to be a bit easier. St. Louis is a tenacious but clean player on the ice and is a prime example of what it means to be a superstar and MVP-like player while not pushing the edge of their game to questionable levels.
The same can be said of Loui Eriksson of Dallas who stands out as a true gentleman of hockey while having some rather dubious teammates. Eriksson’s work as a scoring threat and defensively tough player while keeping his nose clean in rough and tumble Dallas speaks volumes for him. After all, it can’t be easy to keep cool with the likes of Steve Ott, Krys Barch, and Mike Ribeiro running around driving opponents insane. I guess someone has to play “good cop” after all.
So it’s not the most exciting award to be given out, but it’s an oldie and a classic having been given out since the 1924-1925 season. Who do you like for the award? Do you give it to the classic veteran, the incumbent, or the new guy? Let us know in our poll.