As you know, the Lady Byng Trophy is given to "the player adjudged to have exhibited the best type of sportsmanship and gentlemanly conduct combined with a high standard of playing ability."
Or as the writers voting on the award call it, "fewest penalty minutes by a player you've actually heard of."
Our favorite thing about the NHL.com Lady Byng Watch is that it exists. Seriously, it saves hockey fans a good 40 seconds of expended time (a) going to the points leader board, (b) figuring out which high-scoring forward also has the fewest PIMs and (c) assuming that player wins the NHL's most useless award.
Which leads us to this incredible controversy: Loui Eriksson of the Dallas Stars has 10 (!) penalty minutes in 79 games, yet NHL.com has the audacity to rank him ahead of choir boys Matt Moulson of the New York Islanders (6 PIM in 79 games) and Jordan Eberle of the Edmonton Oilers (8 PIM in 76 games) for the Byng?
Eriksson has taken just five minor penalties this season while his plus-17 is among the best marks on the team and the highest rating of his career. In fact, his resume looks so good that if Eriksson wins the Lady Byng in 2012, it will probably not be the last time he does so.
An Eriksson Byng win would confirm his elite status, writes Mike Heika, which would be a relief because you can't be both underrated and elite.
Meanwhile, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins put over Eberle as an "honest player" worthy of the award, while none other than Pittsburgh Penguins Coach Dan Bylsma said Moulson would be his pick, in a stunning heel turn on his own Lady Byng candidate Matt Cooke.
If you're looking for a swerve, how about this: The Puck Stops Here, another inexplicable observer of the Lady Byng race, suggested Brian Campbell of the Florida Panthers as a candidate. Campbell now has 6 PIM in 79 games. Also, he's a ginger.
While we still wave our freak flag for the Cooke The Byng campaign — OK, 42 PIMs seem a tad high for a true gentleman of the game — we have to admit that a Brian Campbell victory would be sorta cool, given that a defenseman hasn't won the award since Red Kelly in 1954.
You know, if we actually cared about the Lady Byng and stuff.
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