The Byng. Ah, yes: The annual 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."
The incomparable honor of winning the Lady Byng Trophy was finally put in the proper perspective when we interviewed Hall of Famer Bobby Hull earlier this season about his Byng victory in 1965:
"It was embarrassing to a point," he said. "I still get barbs for it: ‘You what? You actually accepted the Lady Byng?'"
Yeah, so ... the Byng. The trophy does mean something to somebody, though. Look at the way Datsyuk holds the Lady a little tighter than the Selke. It's because he's gentlemanly, you see; hence, he's won the award three years running.
Pavel Datsyuk(notes) of the Detroit Red Wings, Brad Richards(notes) of the Dallas Stars and Martin St. Louis(notes) of the Tampa Bay Lightning are the three finalists for the 2009-10 Lady Byng Memorial Trophy, which is voted on by those paragons of gentlemanly conduct, the Professional Hockey Writers Association. Here's how the field breaks down ...
Why Pavel Datsyuk Deserves the Byng: The Red Wings star had 18 penalty minutes this season in 80 games. That's absurd for a player who led the NHL in takeaways and had 49 more of them than the second-place guy. So Datsyuk has the credentials for candidacy to go along with his legacy as a previous winner and the undeniable appeal of seeing him wearing a tux, walk to the microphone and serenade the audience with Datsyukian whimsy.
Why Brad Richards Deserves the Byng: Richards won the Byng in 2004, and earned just 14 PIM this season while scoring 91 points. Most impressive of all: He never spun around and ka-bonged Marty Turco(notes) with his stick for letting in a softy and torpedoing the Stars' season.
Though if he had, Richards certainly would have been a finalist for the Keith Ballard Mallet of Goalkeeper Malice ...
Why Marty St. Louis Deserves the Byng: What do you do if you've been the runner-up for this award in three consecutive seasons? Offer to personally seat senior citizens at games? Take your yearbook photo with a kitten? Launch a smear campaign against Pavel Datsyuk ("I heard he once called him Chris Os-bad ...")?
St. Louis had 94 points and his 12 PIM were the fewest among the NHL's top 50 scorers (just edging out Corey Perry's(notes) 111 PIM). But more importantly, he displayed impressive professionalism in the face of constant adversity in Tampa Bay, refusing to publicly display any frustration during the regular season that might cause problems in the locker room. No, he waited until after the season to do that.
Who Will Win The Byng: Let's see ... Pavel Datsyuk is nominated? We'll go with Pavel Datsyuk then.
We had a vote for the Lady Byng this season, and mustered up an ounce of interest in the award to produce the following ballot:
1. Pavel Datsyuk, Detroit Red Wings
3. Martin St. Louis, Tampa Bay Lightning
Sedin seemed like a decent dude despite being targeted by every other team in the League, but his 48 PIM obviously turned off the other voters. We also had Modano on this list rather than Richards, because he swallowed his pride and accepted new roles and days off during what might have been his final season.