2011 NHL Awards: Vancouver’s battle scars haven’t healed, despite silverware
Off The Post: 2011 NHL Awards -Vancouver’s battle scars haven’t healed, despite silverware
LAS VEGAS, NV – Only seven days after the Vancouver Canucks endured the most devastating defeat in their franchise’s history, their top players came face-to-face with their opponents once more.
The loss of Game 7 in the Stanley Cup Final was still evident in the faces of Art Ross Trophy winner Daniel Sedin, Jennings Trophy co-winners Roberto Luongo and Corey Schneider, and Selke winner Ryan Kesler as they arrived in Las Vegas for the 2011 NHL Awards.
Their counterparts in the bitterly-fought final series, the Boston Bruins were represented by Zdeno Chara – winner of the Mark Messier Leadership Award, and Conn Smythe winner Tim Thomas, who also took Vezina Trophy honours as the league’s top goalie.
With Canucks general manager Mike Gillis being named General Manager of the Year, Vancouver edged Boston by a count of 4-3 in individual trophies winners awarded by the NHL. Unfortunately for the Canucks, the Bruins won hockey’s most coveted prize by an identical tally in terms of games on in the series.
“I’m honored to win this award, but I’d trade it in a minute for the Stanley Cup,“ said Gillis. “I don’t think any of us have kind of had an opportunity to fully decompress from what happened and understand it.
Luongo, who was one of many pundits to predict Thomas’ Vezina Trophy win, appeared to be in the denial phase of the five stages of grief. “We haven’t had time to digest what happened last week yet,“ said Luongo. “I haven’t watched anything in the past week except for maybe CNN. It’s not easy, it’s a tough loss, but it’s something that’s going to heal with time.”
Daniel Sedin, who replaced his brother Henrik as scoring champion, was more restrained in recollecting Vancouver’s collapse. Instead the Hart Trophy nominee preferred to celebrate the team’s regular season accomplishments. “We should be happy with the guys that we have on this team,” said Sedin. “I think the organization should be proud of our team and the players. I know we’re excited, and the fans should be, too.”
Sedin also took home the Ted Lindsay awarded as voted by the NHLPA.
On Boston’s side, Chara finished a close second to Detroit’s Nicklas Lidstrom, who was awarded his seventh Norris Trophy as the league’s top defenceman. Only a week removed from hoisting the Cup in front of a stunned Rogers Arena, the Bruins captain still has vivid memories of the epic seven-game struggle.
“The referees did a hell of a job to control it so it didn’t get out of hand, but also to let it go and let us have those battles and those physical parts of the game,” said Chara. “I obviously have huge respect for every player on the other side. You kind of have to put that on the side when you are playing them and playing for your team. Obviously we’re all trying to win the Stanley Cup. But we all respect each other. We know that we’re all human. I know how much (the Canucks) are disappointed, but at the same time I’m just glad it’s not us.”
As for Thomas, who became the first player since Bernie Parent in 1975 to win the Stanley Cup, Vezina Trophy and Conn Smythe Trophy in one year, he considers the animosity of the battle against Vancouver to be water under the bridge. “One of the things I told Luongo going through the handshake line is, ‘For the record I think you’re a great goalie, and you had a great season.’”, said Thomas. It doesn’t really matter what happened.
“What matters in the end is who won the Cup. I hold no ill feelings or ill will for anything that was said by anybody.”
Thomas’ words were offered with the utmost sincerity.
Yet, they are likely of little consolation to his dejected opponents.
Rob Del Mundo is the author of Off The Post, and is a regular columnist at TMLfans.ca
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