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NHL PLAYOFFS | THE NHL

No Ambiguities With These Awards

April 11, 2001|ELLIOTT TEAFORD

Can you predict the winner of this season's King Clancy Award? Or is it the King Clancy Trophy?

Let's see, the answer must be in this hefty book here on my desk, next to this stack of letters and e-mails from cranky Philadelphia Flyer fans.

Ah, so it is a trophy and goalie Curtis Joseph of the Toronto Maple Leafs won it last season. Tough guy Rob Ray won it while playing for the Buffalo Sabres in 1999.

So, what the heck is it given for? And how come a King hasn't won it since Kris King of the late and not-so-great Winnipeg Jets won it in 1996?

FYI: The King Clancy Memorial Trophy is awarded to the player who "best exemplifies leadership qualities on and off the ice and has made a noteworthy humanitarian contribution in his community."

Other leagues give away an award to the most valuable player, but the NHL insists on calling its MVP award the Hart Trophy. The coach-of-the-year award is called the Jack Adams Award. The best defensive forward is given the Frank J. Selke Trophy.

Whatever, dudes.

The Times has a better idea for its season-end awards. And here they are:

BEST PLAYER

Joe Sakic, Colorado Avalanche. He finished second by three measly points to Pittsburgh's Jaromir Jagr, who won the scoring race with 121 points. But he does so much more than score goals or set them up. He's one of the few players in the league who can bring fans to the edge of their seats.

BEST DEFENSEMAN

Scott Stevens, New Jersey Devils. You have to pick a guy who scares you, even if you're sitting in the stands. He's slowing down a bit at the ripe old age of 37, but he's still one of the toughest defensemen to face, particularly in a long playoff series. Others score more, but no one defends better.

BEST GOALTENDER

Martin Brodeur, Devils. There's a reason the Stanley Cup resides at Exit 16W off the Jersey Turnpike. He led the league with 42 victories. He also was third in shutouts with nine.

BEST COACH

Scotty Bowman, Detroit Red Wings. Yeah, he's kinda funny looking. A friend says he looks like Mr. Spacely, George's boss on "The Jetsons" cartoon. And he chews on ice chips during games and sometimes uses a duck call to signal line changes. But his teams never seem to stink up the place, as so many other good teams do on occasion during the seemingly endless 82-game regular season.

BEST TEAM

New Jersey Devils. They won the Cup last season and will probably win it again.

WORST TEAM

New York Islanders. Quick, name an Islander.

BEST GAME

Kings 6, Red Wings 3, March 3 at Staples Center. It had everything most regular-season games lack, including fisticuffs that seemed to arise from genuine anger rather than a script. It also turned out to be a warmup for the teams' first-round playoff series. Plus, King winger Luc Robitaille fought Detroit defenseman Chris Chelios twice. How great was that?

WORST GAME

Mighty Ducks 4, Islanders 3, Oct. 17 at the Nassau Coliseum. The details escape me, but it must have been a dog if a league low of only 6,336 turned up to watch it.

BEST OWNER

Mario Lemieux, Pittsburgh Penguins. Led all NHL owners with 35 goals and 76 points in 43 games after ending his early retirement and picking up the ax and lacing up the blades again.

SECOND-BEST OWNER

Wayne Gretzky, Phoenix Coyotes. Gretzky didn't quit too soon, as Lemieux did, but he probably could still skate circles around some of the Thrashers, Blue Jackets and Mighty Ducks.

WORST OWNER

Walt Disney Co., Ducks. Easy target.

BEST FIGHT

(Tie) Tony Hrkac, Ducks, KOs Pierre Turgeon, St. Louis Blues and Stu Grimson, Kings, KOs Reed Low, St. Louis. Gotta love a one-punch knockout. Local fans got a chance to see two Blues get their lights put out this season.

MOST OVERRATED PLAYER

Pavel Bure, Florida Panthers. If he got his keister back in his own zone once in a while, instead of cherry-picking all the time, maybe the Panthers would have won more than 22 games.

MOST UNDERRATED PLAYER

Tommy Salo, goalie, Edmonton Oilers. You would probably know a lot more about him and his 36 victories if he played for a U.S. team.

BEST RINK

Arrowhead Pond. Best place to watch bad hockey. Eight seasons old and still the classiest joint in the league.

WORST RINK

Reunion Arena, Dallas. Worst place to watch good hockey. It's dark and dingy. Worst public address announcer in the history of the profession. Worst music in the league. Nobody, and I mean nobody, needs to hear "Smoke on the Water," ever again. Thankfully, the Stars are moving across town to the American Airlines Center next season. Of course, it could be that there's no leg room and every game starts 20 minutes late.

BEST FANS

San Jose Sharks. Sure, San Jose is the Fresno of the Bay Area, but the town knows how to support its team through thick and thin.

WORST FANS

Philadelphia Flyers. Forget Santa Claus. These oafs would boo a cure for cancer.

BEST QUOTE

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