June 24, 2010
A year ago we sat through a performance by Chaka Khan and Robin Thicke after watching Jeremy Roenick(notes) stumble his way through an NBC audition as the kinda-sorta host of the show. It was the NHL's first time hosting the awards show in Las Vegas and there was some learning to do in the process.
One year later, the NHL's learning showed as the 2010 version of the show was an all-around fun time. It wasn't a 90-minute knee-slapper of high comedy, but there were more memorable moments last night than in most of the previous shows combined.
Helping matters was that the crowd was definitely in the "Hey, we're in Vegas!" mood and were not as subdued as they were a year ago. Jay Mohr was a pretty good host, but just about all of the comedy was provided by the player's themselves in their speeches, and in one very funny digital short.
We decided to hand out our own awards today after watching last night's show. Please do enjoy.
Best Free Agency Pitch: Shane Doan(notes) during his King Clancy Trophy speech. The U.S. Army sponsored the award and to help give the Phoenix Coyotes captain the trophy, military members marched onto the stage as an American flag graphic graced the video board above. Surrounded by members of the U.S. military and already celebrating Dave Tippett's Jack Adams Award win earlier in the night, Doan's told pending free agents that Phoenix is the place to be because the team is turning things around and staying for another year.
Best Speech: Jose Theodore(notes), Masterton Trophy. If you're nominated for the Masterton, you've just comeback from some sort of hardship in your professional or personal life. Theo experienced the worst moment for a parent when his newborn son passed away a year ago and he somehow fought away tears long enough to deliver a very heartfelt acceptance speech.
Honorable Mention: Martin St. Louis(notes), Lady Byng Trophy. Hopping on board the technology train, St. Louis scoffed at writing his speech on a piece of paper and instead whipped out his Blackberry for his thank yous. Jim Balsillie did not sponsor that award.
Best Zarley Zalapski Reference: Michael Rosenbaum, best known as Lex Luthor from "Smallville", referenced the former Pittsburgh Penguins, Calgary Flames and Hartford Whalers defensemen while talking about the great names in hockey and added that "Darius Kasparaitis" is something you'd get during a weekend in Las Vegas. What happens in Vegas ...
Worst Attempt at a Joke: Mark Wahlberg. The former leader of the Funky Bunch announced "Tie Domi" as the winner of the Calder Trophy. Either his mic cut out of he was too far away from the podium, but Wahlberg wasn't heard actually saying "Tyler Myers", but all the hulking Buffalo Sabres defensemen needed to hear was "Ty" and he knew he had won. And was that the first time Domi's name has be announced during an NHL awards show? Like ever?
Kane also took home (again) "Best Acquisition of the Night" honors.
Best Impression by Jay Mohr: Tracy Morgan. Mohr also did his Norm MacDonald voice and his well-known Christopher Walken, but his impression of the "30 Rock" star was well done and gave me fond memories of Morgan's time as "Hustle Man" on "Martin".
Honorable Mention: Jamie Kennedy calling the award for best goaltender the "Venza". D.B. Sweeney quickly corrected him before the two held fake hockey fight over the right to announce the winner, Ryan Miller(notes).
Best Pavel Datsyuk(notes) Moment: There's no better guarantee for laughs than putting the Detroit Red Wings superstar and Selke Trophy winner in front of a microphone. We were fortunate enough to hear two speeches last year by Dats, but were given only one last night. Accepting the Selke, Datsyuk ended his speech by thanking Detroit management for paying him, saying he hopes it never ends. At least he's honest, right?
Jersey Foul? Snoop in his performance to open the show. Foul? Or does Snoop get a pass here? You decide.
Cut-off Music: 2, NHL award winners: 0: As with most awards shows, the networks are tight on time trying to work in commercial breaks, performances and presentations into a timeframe. Versus had 90 minutes before they'd interrupt angry Goldie Hawn fans waiting to watch "Wildcats" at 9 p.m. ET. That's why both Calder Trophy winner Tyler Myers(notes) and Norris Trophy winner Duncan Keith(notes) each had to rush the end of their speeches because they were taking too long according to the show director. The ending of Keith's was completely cut-off as the show then went to a pre-taped spot with Commissioner Gary Bettman and Ryan Miller for the NHL's Foundation Award. At least Myers was took the hint once he began hearing the music.
Funniest Moment: More digital shorts next year please! The short featuring Anaheim Ducks forwards Ryan Getzlaf(notes) and Bobby Ryan(notes) in a hilarious competition inside Honda Center was pure comedy gold. Displaying the personalities of each iss something that the NHL should do more often. In fact, how about next year teaming up with Andy Samberg for an updated "Dick in a Box" routine? There's so much to do with that one ... hockey related, of course. Think of the possibilities with such hated players like Sean Avery(notes) and Daniel Carcillo(notes).
What are your thoughts on the show last night? Enjoyed it? Hated it? Better than in years past?