The NHL announced the finalists for the Lady Byng Trophy on Thursday, as right wing Patrick Kane of the Chicago Blackhawks, left wing Matt Moulson of the New York Islanders and right wing Martin St. Louis of the Tampa Bay Lightning are up for the award given “to the player adjudged to have exhibited the best type of sportsmanship and gentlemanly conduct combined with a high standard of playing ability” as voted on by members of the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association.
This is the award given to the highest scorer with the fewest penalty minutes, or at least that’s the way it’s seemed for the last few seasons. As you all remember, defenseman Brian Campbell -- more on that in a second -- won the Lady Byng in 2011-12; alas, he had an elephantine 12 penalty minutes this season, so no repeat.
It’s a fairly worthless award, although Adam Proteau of The Hockey News made an interesting case on XM Radio the other day: That being a player who takes punishment but doesn’t take penalties in retaliation is a unique brand of toughness for an otherwise delicate award.
Of course, that speaks directly to why defenseman should be up for this award every season, and yet Campbell was the first D-man to win since 1954. But we digress …
Who wins the Byng this season?
Why Patrick Kane Deserves The Byng
The NHL says:
Kane ranked fifth in the NHL in both goals (23) and points (55), leading Chicago to its second Presidents’ Trophy in franchise history. He played in 47 games, averaging 20:03 of playing time, but was whistled for just eight penalty minutes – the fewest among the top 20 point-producers in the League. Kane also recorded a +11 rating, his second-best plus/minus in his six-year NHL career, and tied for seventh in the League with eight power-play goals. The 24-year-old Buffalo, N.Y., native is a Lady Byng finalist for the first time.
Please keep in mind this is for on-ice behavior, so the utter hilarity of cabbie-smackin’, hard-drinkin’, hound-doggin’ Patrick Kane being up for the “most gentlemanly” award is unfortunately muted. Besides, this award is as much an acknowledgement that he’s cleaned up his act as anything else. That said, we yield the floor to Jonathan Hoepfinger:
Pat Kane is up for any Lady.
— Jonathan Hoepfinger (@FrackingSabres) May 16, 2013
Why Matt Moulson Deserves The Byng
The NHL says:
Moulson placed in the top three on the Islanders in goals (15), assists (29) and points (44), helping the team to its first playoff berth in six years. He totaled four penalty minutes in 47 games, tied with San Jose forward Logan Couture for the fewest among the top 50 scorers in the League. Moulson also posted his fourth consecutive 15-goal season, tied for seventh in the NHL with eight power-play goals and logged an average of 19:09 per game. The 29-year-old North York, Ont., native is a Lady Byng finalist for the second straight year, having finished third in voting in 2011-12.
It’s always impressive that Moulson doesn’t take more penalties, given his style of play and the chippy-ness that comes with playing in the Atlantic Division. Four penalty minutes in 47 games … does he own an invisibility cloak or something?
Why Martin St. Louis Deserves The Byng
The NHL says:
St. Louis led the NHL with 43 assists and 60 points in 48 games to capture his second career Art Ross Trophy (2003-04). He averaged 1.25 points per game, becoming one of only three players in League history to achieve that mark at age 37 or older (Mario Lemieux, 2002-03; Gordie Howe, 1968-69). St. Louis also ranked second among NHL forwards in total time on ice (1,055:12), but was assessed just 14 penalty minutes. The Laval, Que., native is a two-time Lady Byng winner (2009-10, 2010-11) and has been voted a finalist for the award on four other occasions.
St. Louis is like a pinball out there, taking his hits and still rolling on. Those 14 penalty minutes are more than you’d expect for a Byng candidate, but St. Louis takes enough abuse to the point where homicide would be justifiable, so 14 PIMs is still rather low.
Who Wins The Byng?
Kane. Because writers with senses of humor and an appreciation for irony vote on the award. Still don’t know why Matt Cooke didn’t win last season.
1. Logan Couture, San Jose Sharks
2. Loui Eriksson, Dallas Stars
3. Matt Moulson, New York Islanders
4. Kyle Wellwood, Winnipeg Jets
5. Patrick Kane, Chicago Blackhawks
OHMYGEHRD WEST COAST BIAS!
Couture had four penalty minutes in 48 games. Maybe Kevin Bieksa lobbied the PHWA with diving accusations while we weren't looking, because otherwise Couture would have seemed like a lock for the top three.