Hurricanes’ Slavin earns Lady Byng Trophy with truly unusual season

Hurricanes' Slavin earns Lady Byng Trophy with truly unusual season
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For some, half the point of the NHL Awards (and the Grammys, and the Oscars, and …) is to argue about who should or should not win various trophies. But, generally speaking, people don’t get a lot of passion going for Lady Byng Memorial Trophy debates.

(The Lady Byng goes “to the player adjudged to have exhibited the best type of sportsmanship and gentlemanly conduct combined with a high standard of playing ability,” so maybe a seething Internet debate would be positively unbecoming for such an award?)

Either way, if there were ever a year where people got mad about the Lady Byng, it would have been in 2020-2021 … if Hurricanes defenseman Jaccob Slavin did not win it. Well, put that (decidedly niche) nightmare to rest, because Slavin did indeed win the 2021 Lady Byng Trophy.

Hurricanes’ Slavin wins 2021 Lady Byng for a truly special season

In the NHL’s release, they describe Slavin as “the runaway winner” of the 2021 Lady Byng. That’s fair enough, as Slavin received 73 of the first-place votes. Compare how Slavin finished to second-place Jared Spurgeon (Wild) and Auston Matthews (Maple Leafs).

Interestingly, Matthews received more first-place votes than Spurgeon (8-1). Meanwhile, Aleksander Barkov finished just outside the top three. Here are the top 10 Lady Byng vote-getters, via the NHL:

Hurricanes' Slavin earns Lady Byng Trophy with truly unusual season

If there’s any potential for a “That’s so Internet!” debate, it might be that Slavin didn’t receive all of the first-place voters for the Lady Byng.

Truly, it’s hard to imagine anyone pulling off Slavin’s nearly flawless game, considering what’s asked of a defenseman of his stature. Some Hockey Twitter people were just waiting to get mad about this.

While that seems like a weird hill to die on, yes, Slavin put together an almost unthinkably clean season.

(Yep, it’s hard for defensemen to win this thing. Slavin became just the fourth defenseman to win the Lady Byng.)

Last season, people believed Slavin was “robbed” of the 2020 Lady Byng, which Nathan MacKinnon won. Welp, no worries of such robberies this time around.

2021 NHL Award finalists:

Vezina Trophy: Marc-Andre Fleury, Philipp Grubauer, Andrei Vasilevskiy
Ted Lindsay Award: Sidney Crosby, Auston Matthews, Connor McDavid
Calder Memorial Trophy: Kirill Kaprizov, Alex Nedeljkovic, Jason Robertson

Willie O’Ree Community Hero Award: Renee Hess, Kevin Hodgson, Howard Smith
Norris Trophy: Adam Fox, Victor Hedman, Cale Makar
Hart Trophy: Connor McDavid, Auston Matthews, Nathan MacKinnon 

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

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