Defenseman Brian Campbell of the Florida Panthers, right wing Jordan Eberle of the Edmonton Oilers and left wing Matt Moulson of the New York Islanders are the three finalists for the 2011-12 Lady Byng Memorial Trophy. Which means Loui Eriksson isn't one.
The Professional Hockey Writers Association votes on this Trophy, which is awarded "to the player adjudged to have exhibited the best type of sportsmanship and gentlemanly conduct combined with a high standard of playing ability."
Now, for a while we were thinking that the biggest controversy for this ridiculous award — it's the hockey equivalent of the "School Spirit" award in a high-school yearbook … or maybe "Shiest," which always went to that girl who played the violin — would be the exclusion of Matt Cooke of the Pittsburgh Penguins, but that was before his PIMs climbed late in the season.
Instead, we're faced with the exclusion of 2011 Byng finalist Loui Eriksson because (a) all the voters do is count up the penalty minutes for leading scorers and (b) Eriksson had 12(!) of them, which apparently makes him John Wayne Gacy on ice.
Now that Loui was robbed, who wins the 2011-12 Lady Byng?
Why Brian Campbell Deserves The Lady Byng
From the NHL:
Campbell anchored the defense corps on a Florida club that posted a 22-point increase over 2010-11 and captured its first division title in franchise history. He took on a heavy workload by appearing in all 82 games and leading the NHL in total ice time (2,205:31), yet was whistled for just six penalty minutes -- the fewest among the 65 NHL defensemen who appeared in at least 77 games. He ranked second among League defensemen in scoring with 53 points (four goals, 49 assists), tying the single-season franchise record for assists by a defenseman, and ranked second in the NHL in power-play assists (30).
If you're like us, you're probably wondering why the NHL tossed out that weird-ass, arbitrary "at least 77 games" figure in their write-up. Well, that's because Jamie McBain of the Carolina Hurricanes actually topped Brian Campbell for gentlemanly play for defensemen with 4 PIMs in 76 games. Alas, he did not reach the just-established benchmark of 77 games for NHL defenseman to qualify as gentlemanly.
Campbell has a chance to make a little history here, as no defenseman has won the Lady Byng since Red Kelly back in 1954. That alone makes him a worthy choice for the award.
Also, because he didn't throw a fit when his yam bag made it on the Internet.
Why Jordan Eberle Deserves The Lady Byng
From the NHL
In his second NHL season, Eberle led the Oilers in goals (34), assists (42) and points (76), posting a 33-point increase over his rookie campaign. He received only five minor penalties for 10 total minutes in 1,372:35 of playing time. Turning 22 on May 15, Eberle is the youngest Lady Byng Trophy finalist since Anaheim Ducks star Paul Kariya captured the award at 21 years, eight months in 1996 after his sophomore NHL season. Eberle is vying to become the third player in Oilers history to win the trophy, joining Wayne Gretzky (1980) and Jari Kurri (1985).
First off, he's 21 years old and from Saskatchewan; isn't it just assumed he'd be a well-mannered "yes sir/yes ma'am" lad? (Then again, Hartnell's from Regina, so this could have done the other way.)
Eh, we're sure he's as worthy as anyone for the Byng, and it would be nice to see the Oilers win something this postseason. OH THAT'S RIGHT THEY TOTALLY ALREADY DID.
Why Matt Moulson Deserves The Lady Byng
From the NHL:
Moulson posted career highs in goals (36), assists (33) and points (69), becoming the first Islanders player to post three consecutive 30-goal seasons since Zigmund Palffy from 1995-96 through 1997-98. He also set a career high, led his club and tied for third in the NHL in power-play goals (14). The first-time NHL Trophy finalist played all 82 games for the third time in as many seasons with the Islanders and was assessed just six penalty minutes, tied with fellow Lady Byng finalist Brian Campbell for the fewest among the League's top 75 scorers.
Adam Kimelman of NHL.com notes that "with six penalty minutes, he became the first player since Paul Kariya in 1996-97 to score at least 30 goals and have single-digit penalty minutes." Not bad for an aggressive forward like Moulson, who gets bonus points for not having gone postal despite playing for the Islanders for the last three years.
Who Wins The Byng?
Who cares ... it should be the refs and linesmen who vote on this anyway.
1. Brian Campbell, Florida Panthers
2. Loui Eriksson, Dallas Stars
3. Matt Moulson, New York Islanders
4. Jordan Eberle, Edmonton Oilers
5. Pavel Datsyuk, Detroit Red Wings
If they're going to give out this dopey award, might as well give it to Campbell so history can be made. Plus, on a serious note: Here's a guy who waived his no-trade clause for a deal to Florida, and then he became the pied piper for other players to come join the fun in Sunrise. That alone warrants the Trophy, even if it's at the inexplicable expense of Loui Eriksson as a Finalist.