Sean Avery was at the Rangers home opener in spirit and banner form

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If Sean Avery was to give an Oscar-like speech, it might go something like, “You guys like me. You really, really like me!”

There was an immense show of support some Rangers fans showed for him during last night’s home opener in the form of a massive banner as Mike Mazzeo of ESPN shared.

As a fan named Don shared in the story, he feels that the Rangers need a spark plug-like guy like Avery in their lineup to keep the team going. Don isn’t the only one feeling that way either as Henrik Lundqvist more or less said the same thing.

“We have players that can bring spark here for this group,” Henrik Lundqvist said after the Rangers were drubbed, 4-2, in their home opener by Toronto. “Obviously, Aves he is one of a kind when it comes to playing the game the way he plays it, and he brings a lot to the table. He’s a great player obviously, but right now the management thinks this is the best team possible and we’re just gonna go with that.”

Seeing fans respond that way for any player they feel the team needs is nothing new. But supporting Sean Avery? That’s a new one. Avery upsetting opposing fans is nothing new, but getting even the home fans to rally around him that way is stunning.

Do the Rangers need him though? Given that there’s a rotation of guys no contributing a whole lot to the team in Kris Newbury, Erik Christensen, and occasionally Wojtek Wolski… Maybe there’s a place in New York for Sean Avery after all. After what coach John Tortorella has said about Avery this year, however, there might be more appearances by banners in Madison Square Garden this season than there will be from Avery.

Devils’ Brian Boyle receives Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy

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Brian Boyle of the New Jersey Devils is the recipient of the 2018 Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy

The award is given to the player “who best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship, and dedication to hockey.” The Professional Hockey Writers’ Association nominate a player from each of their 31 chapters and three finalists are named after a vote.

Roberto Luongo of the Florida Panthers and Jordan Staal of the Carolina Hurricanes were the other two finalists.

A $2,500 grant from the PHWA is awarded annually to the Bill Masterton Scholarship Fund, based in Bloomington, Minn., in the name of the Masterton Trophy winner.

Boyle was diagnosed with chronic myeloid leukemia in September and missed the opening month of the season before returning Nov. 1. One week later he scored an emotional first goal of the season. He inspired a mural in New York City and later represented the New Jersey Devils at the NHL All-Star Game in Tampa in place of teammate Taylor Hall.

The Devils forward didn’t only deal with a cancer diagnosis this season. Boyle and his wife, Lauren, also went through an ordeal where doctors believed their two-year-old son Declan was possibly dealing with Ewing sarcoma of the mandible. Turns out it was a rare condition that impacts blood flow and oxygen circulation, and after a handful of procedures the situation is under control.

Boyle’s red and white blood cell counts show little traces of CML remaining. He told Dan Rosen of NHL.com this week that he could be off medication in three to six months.

“I am in a good spot,” Boyle said. “I’m certainly not concerned.”

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Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.

Islanders’ Mathew Barzal claims Calder Trophy

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Mathew Barzal became the fifth New York Islander to win the Calder Trophy, which was handed out during Wednesday’s NHL Awards show in Las Vegas. The award is voted on by the Professional Hockey Writers Association and given “to the player selected as the most proficient in his first year of competition in the National Hockey League.”

Denis Potvin, Bryan Trottier, Mike Bossy and Bryan Berard were the previous Islanders players to win the rookie of the year award.

“This is an amazing honor to win the Calder Trophy,” Barzal said. “The players that have won this award, within the Islanders organization and then others around the league, includes Hall of Fame players and Stanley Cup Champions. To have my name next to those guys in the record books is very humbling.”

Barzal led all rookies with 85 points and 27 power play points, and finished sixth in goals with 22. He was also the only rookie to average over a point per game (1.04). He finished the season as the Islanders leading scorer and was fourth on the team in goals.

One of the many highlights of Barzal’s rookie season was the three 5-point games he recorded, which made him him the second rookie in league history to achieve the feat. Joe Malone last did it 100 years ago during the NHL’s first season in 1917-18.

Here’s what the voting looked like as Barzal beat out the other two finalists, Brock Boeser of the Vancouver Canucks and Clayton Keller of the Arizona Coyotes.

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Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.

Victor Hedman wins first Norris Trophy

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Victor Hedman won the 2018 Norris Trophy, landing the trophy for the first time in his career and becoming the first Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman to do so. (Sorry, Dan Boyle.)

Hedman, 27, needed to edge two former Norris winners in Drew Doughty and P.K. Subban to earn the honor. It was a great year for the towering blueliner, as he generated 17 goals (a new career-high), marking his fifth consecutive 10+ goal season.

Naturally, his all-around game was fantastic as he collected 63 points, just behind last season’s peak of 72.

As usual, the most fun part of this process is finding out how the voting shook out via the PHWA:

Interesting to see some of the players who received stray first-place votes. While Seth Jones finished higher in overall voting, he finished with two first-place votes compared to John Carlson‘s three. John Klingberg also received one top Norris nod, while Brent Burns was the lowest-ranked player (eight) to receive a No. 1 Norris vote.

Watch Hedman’s “nervous” acceptance speech in the video above this post’s headline.

No Hart this year, but Connor McDavid wins Ted Lindsay

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The 2017-18 season was disappointing on a team level for the Edmonton Oilers – something Connor McDavid noted during his acceptance speech – but McDavid stood out as a true superstar. Just ask his fellow NHL players.

McDavid won the 2018 Ted Lindsay award, which is awarded to the most outstanding player as voted by the NHLPA. The 21-year-old edged Nathan MacKinnon and Taylor Hall for the award, something that surprised him.

This marks the second consecutive season that McDavid earned both the Art Ross Trophy and the Ted Lindsay, in part because he topped all players with an impressive 108 points. Yes, that’s a rare accomplishment for someone his age.

It’s remarkable that McDavid won the Ted Lindsay, yet he isn’t a finalist for the Hart Trophy, one would assume because the Oilers fell well short of the 2018 Stanley Cup Playoffs. Instead, the MVP finalists are Hall, MacKinnon, and Anze Kopitar.

You can watch McDavid’s speech in the video above this post’s headline.