The Florida Panthers did not come home from Las Vegas empty-handed this trip. At this year’s NHL Awards Show, Brian Campbell won the Lady Byng Memorial Trophy, making history in a couple of different ways.
One, Campball is the first defenseman to win the award since 1954, when Red Kelly of the Detroit Red Wings won it. Two, this trophy is the first voted-on award ever given to a Panther. So this year’s Lady Byng presentation did have some added significance.
The Lady Byng is presented each year to the “player adjudged to have exhibited the best type of sportsmanship and gentlemanly conduct combined with a high standard of playing ability”. Brian Campbell fit that archetype to a T this year. His statistics were just incredible. He led every NHL player this year in ice time, averaging 26:53 per game, while only piling up six penalty minutes. Without a question, the level of pressure and responsibility on Campbell’s shoulders, with the three measly penalties he picked up, along with the physicality needed to play defenseman, Campbell was a shoe-in to win this award.
His competition was tough, however. The two other finalists were Jordan Eberle of the Edmonton Oilers and Matt Moulson of the New York Islanders. Both had tremendous seasons while staying out of the box, so they had their share of votes. But the competition for the Lady Byng was much wider than just those three – 53 players received votes, from Niklas Lidstrom all the way to Jared Spurgeon. The number of names Campbell had to surpass to win the trophy made his award even more impressive.
Of course, Brian Campbell wasn’t the only representation of the Panthers in Las Vegas. Dale Tallon showed up to pick up his Best GM Award, which he unfortunately wasn’t able to do. Dale finished a close second to Doug Armstrong of the St. Louis Blues, but eclipsed David Poile of the Nashville Predators. Armstrong did a great job in St. Louis, but it clear that the NHL this year awarded the team of the present and not the team of the future. Maybe next year, Dale.
But you know, the Panthers have to be looking at many different trophies next year. Maybe a Calder for Jonathan Huberdeau, maybe a Norris for Brian Campbell, maybe another shot at the Best GM Award for Dale Tallon, and possibly a Jack Adams for Kevin Dineen. Or a Stanley Cup. But maybe I’m getting ahead of myself.
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